Cold comfort in Canton for Old Penarthians
8:20am Thursday 17th January 2013 in Sport
CANTON 1st XV 50pts OLD PENARTHIANS 1st XV 0
SATURDAY saw the first of the Arctic winds arrive in South Wales and it was a cold wind that blew Old Penarthians no good in their match with Canton at Lawrenny Avenue. Trailing only 5-0 at half time, the team turned around into the wind in the second half and conceded seven unanswered tries, five of them converted by outside half Luke Radford.
Despite the endeavours of the first half, by the end of the match this was a capitulation, with few players emerging with any credit. Coach Jeff Norman and captain Lloyd Davey will have to use all their motivational skills to ensure the team pick themselves up, because they have another big match at the weekend when they entertain St Josephs, from Cardiff, in what is sure to be a thorough test of fortitude.
At half time no-one on the touchline from either side could have foreseen the result, as the good work at the scrum and line out evident from the Old Pens in the first 40 minutes disappeared in an avalanche of points.
It was probably true that Penarthians had not made best use of the wind at their backs in the opening period but there had been signs of promise in attack and resolve in defence.
The game started with Canton on the attack but good tackles from Tom Sidford and Simon Barry, both on the Canton No 8 Liam Sullivan who has, in recent matches been the scourge of the Old Pens, set the standard.
The defensive organisation was strong and allowed Canton little opportunity to break out. They were, however, given an opportunity from 35 metres from an offside offence to open the scoring but the kick into the wind was always going to be a challenge. Simon Barry caught the ball in front of the posts and called ‘Mark.’ He then launched a return kick 50 metres on the wind for a touch finder inside the opposition half.
On 10 minutes, Josh Hurley had an opportunity from just inside the Canton half to open the scoring for Old Penarthians but, despite the advantage of the wind, the kick was short and left of the posts. There then followed a series of scrummages where no-one really gained an advantage due to the defending team always pressurising the side with the advantage of the put-in, often resulting in a reset scrum.
From an unusually stable scrum on halfway, Canton launched an attack when the outside half ran wide away from the set piece before sending a pass back the way he had come to the blindside winger. He made 30 metres into the Penarthians' half before being well tackled by Charles Gore with the support of Hurley.
It was then the turn of Penarthians to attack when, from broken play, Mark Sadler, deputising at scrum half instead of playing at his preferred position of centre, released Liam Union on a run. He found Gore in support before Mark Smart and Joel deClaire were able to take the ball further forward. A poor pass, unfortunately, brought the promising move to a halt.
On 30 minutes, the match was still scoreless and Penarthians were seen rushing their chances rather than trying to benefit from the good work at the breakdown by deClaire and Dean Pratt. The alignment of the backs was often too flat, and Jon Crimp at outside half was left with few options other than taking the ball into contact himself when forwards should have been available to carry the ball forward.
To Crimp’s credit, the ball was usually recycled but the momentum was lost and the advantage was handed back to Canton who were organised in defence as the Penarthians' pack became over committed at the ruck situation.
There were few opportunities to bring the threequarters into play through organised moves and it was left to Hurley to bring most of the excitement to the watching spectators from runs from broken play. On two occasions he nearly broke free but there always seemed to be Canton cover to snuff out the chances.
Then, with the last play of the first half, Canton drove the ball into the Penarthians' 22 through backs and forwards interpassing and the final pass saw the flanker score a try to the left of the posts. The conversion was missed and the half time score was 5-0.
Half time saw the withdrawal of injured prop Peter Harry and flanker deClaire to be replaced by Danny Godfrey and Paul Kemp, with a reshuffle in the pack pushing Tony Kemp into the front row. Both Godfrey and Tony Kemp brought enthusiasm to the side and, at times, quite literally put their bodies in the way of the opposition but even their examples could not encourage some of their colleagues.
The second half could not have started in a worse fashion when, within two minutes, Canton scored another try when a lack of cohesion between No 8 Barry and scrum half Sadler presented the ball to the Canton scrum half who found support from his centre who ran over to score. Other than this, both players had contributed well in positions with which they are unfamiliar and they kept trying until the end.
But that score was the beginning of the end and Canton ran out 50-0 winners. For the record, the Canton try scorers (in no particular order) were Richard Kemble, Liam Rees, Ryan Rees, Mike Crothers, Jamie Morris, Martin Ridley, Liam Sullivan and Luke Radford, who also kicked the conversions.
For Canton it was a very good team performance and it underlined the fact that a winning spirit can generate opportunities. Old Penarthians do have the ability within their ranks and the spirit amongst the players is generally excellent.
It must, therefore, be hoped that this is a minor blip and that the good work in the first half of the match, and in the preceding game against Beaufort, where everyone made contributions, is the thing to concentrate on as the season moves forward.
The 2nd XV entertained Llantwit Fadre at Cwrt-y-vil hoping to put behind them the poor performance of the previous week. It was always going to be difficult against a second team whose first XV compete in a division four leagues higher than the Old Penarthians but this was a competitive game throughout and showed ‘bounce backability.’
The final score was 37-12 in favour of Llantwit Fadre but, at the start of the second half, a try from Gareth Boulton converted by Huw Liddell made the score 15-7 and skipper Ian Buckley was rightly proud of the way his team were competing with their bigger more physical opponents.
Unfortunately, the loss of Alun Haines in the second half because he was cold and the thoughts of celebrating prop forward Neil Margetson’s 50th birthday was too much of a handicap to overcome as the game progressed despite a second home try from Rhys Loveliss.
It meant the pack ran out of steam before the full 80 minutes but Alex Holder and Richie Ball were a constant thorn in the side of Llantwit Fadre in attack and defence. Liddell, making his first start on the rugby field for 12 months, made useful contributions, but will have to stop orchestrating play from the centre circle as he has been doing recently in the South Wales Amateur Football League. Rhys Thomas and James Williams also made useful contributions.
On Saturday the first team play at their St Marks Road home against table-topping St Josephs. In the first meeting of the sides in September, St Josephs were 57-6 winners and the Old Penarthians will have to find some resolve to ensure they are competitive this time against a well drilled outfit.
The Joes' loss against Ynysowen last weekend should, however, be an encouragement that they can be beaten.
The Seconds have a friendly fixture away at Whitchurch, Cardiff.