Early errors are costly
11:00am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Sport
Paul Langley breaks from a solid scrummage with Simon Davies waiting for a pass. Picture: Ken Langley
Old Penarthians 1sts 7pts CEFN COED 1sts 43
IN BRIGHT and sunny weather last Saturday, Old Penarthians 1st XV played host to Cefn Coed in a SWALEC Division 5SE fixture. Unfortunately, the brighter team on the day were the visitors and they were to eventually win by 43 points to seven.
The home team did contribute to an enjoyable contest that entertained the supporters who recognised that the venue had been reversed from that shown in the fixture books following a request from Cefn Coed but it was the visitors who had the sunnier disposition when they travelled home.
The result was, however, never in doubt after a disastrous 16 minutes at the start of the game which saw the visitors run in three tries, all of which were converted. There was definitely a lack of atmosphere before the game amongst the players, either due to the absence of coach Jeff Norman on holiday in Portugal or the thought of playing Cefn Coed, who, in the past, have been strong (but not unbeatable) opponents.
In fact, Cefn Coed had already been defeated twice this campaign and the Old Penarthians should have taken a lot of confidence from their last three outings. These matches had recorded two victories, from positions in which they were losing, against Pontllanfraith and Caerau Ely, and a creditable draw against Llantrisant 2nd XV. This should have been sufficient encouragement for the players to be competing for their places in a winning team but, perhaps, the tone of the weekend was set the preceding Thursday when the numbers training, particularly amongst the forwards, were not what would have been expected.
It was a feeling felt from the touchline that the team were playing more as individual parts rather than as a full team and the cohesion that should have been forged at training was lacking. In defence of the team, there were enforced changes from the previous couple of weeks due to injuries, holidays and work commitments but the selected team should still have been experienced enough to be competitive.
Assistant coach Mark Bow was obviously left very frustrated on the sidelines as the player options were indecisive and not what had been practised previously. Bow will have to build both confidence and enthusiasm in his charges during the training sessions before their next fixture against Taffs Well.
The match itself started with individual defensive errors that saw tackles missed and poor ball retention that resulted in a second minute try from Cefn Coed captain and centre Ross Sullivan, who took a blindside pass from his scrum half brother Ryan after an attacking scrum in the Penarthians 22. Things did not improve after nine minutes when Sullivan crossed for his second try, and then Mark Sadler was asked to spend 10 minutes in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on when interrupting another Cefn Coed attack. The defence did not adjust quickly enough to the lack of numbers in the threequarters and Jason Wilkes crossed for a third try. All the tries were converted by Sam George.
There then came a period of consolidation as if the team realised that, without some pride, a rout could be on the cards. The forwards who had, even in the early stages, been competitive started to assert themselves against bigger opponents in the scrummage and Lee Brennan, Dean Pratt and a very young looking Peter Harry produced good ball that allowed No 8 Paul Langley to consider options of releasing scrum-half Simon Davies or advancing himself.
With this platform and that of an effective lineout from Mark Smart and Stuart Clarke, the thre-quarters were given chances to stretch their opposition. On two occasions sensible passing from Huw Morgan, Sadler and Gareth Jones in midfield saw the creation of an overlap but the last passes from Lloyd Davey did not reach full-back Jon Crimp and the opportunities were lost.
In games like this, chances have to be taken and it was no surprise when outside-half Matthew Bow charged down an attempted attacking kick from Morgan to race 50 yards to score under the posts for George to convert and make the score 28-0.
Penarthians did show further resilience, however, and two foraging runs by Noel Extragary and Tom Sidford saw possession in opposition territory, and the pressure paid off with Cefn Coed committing penalty offences. Quick tap kicks from Davies set the threequarters running and Davey released winger Charles Gore on a strong touchline run before he was bundled out of play. The ensuing Cefn Coed lineout was then stolen by Langley and he forced his way over from five metres to score on his seasonal debut. The try was converted by Crimp and the half time score was 28-7.
The half-time break saw the introduction of prop Tony Kemp but it was his team mates that let the kick off bounce for Cefn Coed to start in the same fashion as the first half and race into the home team 22. This time poor handling resulted in a knock on and the chance was missed. Territory was, however, maintained and, after an infringement in front of the posts, George kicked three points.
On 12 minutes Penarthians again conceded a try, this time to strong scrum-half Sullivan wide out by the touchline. For the rest of the half Penarthians were able to secure a little more ball but it was generally on the back foot after good defensive work through forwards Langley, Clarke and replacement Alex Holder. Other good tackles were made in open play by Simon Davies, who had a good battle with his opposite scrum half all afternoon, and Crimp making up for some earlier errors. Crimp also had a run out of defence with support from Jones that nearly released Sadler and Gore.
A couple of errors near the opposition try line by the forwards also saw opportunities missed late on and, unfortunately, the last play of the game saw another try for Cefn Coed by Rhys Davies converted by George.
At Llandaff Fields, Old Penarthians' 2nd XV were the visitors in their CADRU Premier Division fixture with Clwb Rygbi Caerdydd. The final result of 38 points to 17 in favour of the home team does not, however, reflect the whole story or the efforts of the 12 rugby players, two footballers and one squash player who comprised the team. At half time the score was only 5-5 and it was the absence of substitutes that was the telling factor when fresh legs from the opposition eventually overran the Penarthians' endeavours.
With tries from Peter Ryan and Lois Lane, the score was only 10-14 after an hour but three Clwb Rygbi tries in a 10-minute period effectively finished the game. A final pushover try from Alun Haines, after sustained scrummage pressure, with a conversion from Richie Moir, gave the scoreline justifiable respectability.
Moir and James Williams tackled well and marshalled their inexperienced back division, which included debutants Haydn Donovan and Dan Harvey, to ensure that opportunities were maximised. The forward effort was led by Mark Curtis who had his opposite prop in obvious pain and complaining that he was cheating. He was supported by Bali Salisbury, Richie Ball, Paul Kemp and Alun Haines in a tackling masterclass.
Tim Millar was also prominent until a neck injury sustained when team mates Neil Margetson and Curtis inadvertently dropped him at a lineout for no other reason than they were tired. Skipper Ian Buckley can, therefore, be proud of his team’s efforts as they look forward to a week off from league activity.
On Saturday the 1st XV enter the SWALEC-sponsored WRU Bowl competition for the first time this season with an away fixture against Taffs Well. At home, the Veterans look to continue their winning start to the season in a fixture against neighbours Sully RFC. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm.