Penybanc Panthers 15 Abergele Ladies 12

Supercup Pool C – Round One

While many fixtures fell victim to the horrendous weather, Penybanc Panthers had club staff to thank for their efforts to prepare the pitch, especially club chairman Ian Lloyd who spent most of the morning on the field with pitchfork in hand.

The conditions ensured the match was never likely to be a classic, but the commitment and passion shown by both set of players made for a thrilling encounter for the healthy number of supporters from both teams who braved the weather.

The Panthers, wearing their new Principality Building Society-sponsored kit, certainly looked the part as they entered the field.

With conditions improving as the game kicked off, the Panthers’ were guilty of an early knock-on resulting in a scrum inside their 22m line. The ball was quickly shipped to the Abergele winger who crossed the whitewash with only seconds played.

Conceding early tries had been the Panthers’ Achilles’ heel in the league and appears to have come with them into the cup.

Fortunately, the young side held their nerve and battle their way back into the game.

Following the restart the hosts were able to create some forward momentum with outside-half Alanna Woodford showing some silky footwork before diving over in the corner to make the score 7-5 to the visitors.

With Abergele having the bigger side their plan was to keep it tight, but at every opportunity the Panthers spread the ball and looked to make them run.

The tactic brought great success with two quick tries from man-of-the-match Catrin Rees at scrum half and powerful prop Jo Taylor, who extended the half-time home advantage to 15-7.

The second half started as did the first, with Abergele pressing hard.

A monumental defensive effort, including a series of huge hits, ensured the Panthers held out for a long period, but Abergele battled hard and eventually went over to reduce the arrears to just three points.

With the field getting heavier underfoot with each passing minute, the tempo inevitably slowed, allowing the Panthers to play out the game and claim a confidence-boosting 15-12 win to begin their Supercup campaign.

Both teams deserve immense credit and a special mentions are deserved by the Panthers front row who acquitted themselves superbly against much heavier opposition.

Danielle Jenkins and Kirsty Hopkins gained their first senior caps while Jo Taylor played prop for the first time.

Coach Hywel Thomas said: “This was always going to be a tough game, but I’m delighted with how the girls performed and to register our first win in the cup.”

The Panthers next travel to Bargoed Bears.