Markham 38 Old Penarthians 1st XV 25
11:50am Thursday 7th March 2013 in Sport
MARKHAM 38pts, OLD PENARTHIANS 1st XV 25
LAST Saturday saw the Old Penarthians 1st XV make their first visit to Rhymney Valley side Markham, who were promoted from Division 6E at the beginning of the season and whose progress in the league has been limited.
In fact, they sat at the bottom of the league, with negative points having been deducted points for failing to fulfil three fixtures – one of those was the reverse fixture in Penarth in September.
Penarthians, who also occupy a position towards the bottom of the league, were, therefore, targeting this fixture as a way to move away from the threats of relegation.
The mood before the game was confident – bolstered by the inclusion of experienced forwards Paul Rapley and Alun Haines, playing behind a strong front row of Dean Pratt, Simon Barry and Dale Norris.
The back row of Joel deClaire, Mark Smart and Danny Godfrey also had a blend of experience and enthusiasm.
The forwards made an impact from the kick off by Jon Crimp which went into the opposition 22.
The ball was not collected and Simon Barry secured the bouncing ball.
He brushed aside a couple of weak tackles and was brought down 10 metres from the try line.
The remaining forwards were in support and scrumhalf Steve Thomas passed to Crimp who fed on to Charles Gore who ran strongly for the try line.
As the cover defence closed in, he passed to winger Andy Gill, rather than backing himself to break a tackle, and Gill was bundled into touch – spurning the chance of an early score.
The try may not have been scored but it was a confident start.
That dominance lasted for the better part of 30 minutes with Markham rarely breaking into the Penarthians’ territory.
However, the Penarthians were only able to build a sixpoint lead, mainly due to the number of penalties given away by Markham at the breakdown area.
As half-time approached Markham finally managed to mount a concerted attack on the Penarthians’ tryline.
The defence held and good tackles by Smart, deClaire, Gore and Barry prevented a try.
When Markham spread the ball wide it looked as if the danger had passed, but the referee signalled for a penalty under the posts for an offside offence.
The Markham scrum half, Sean Davies, took a quick tap and ran through the unsuspecting Penarthians’ defence to score a try which he converted for a half-time score of 7-6 to the home team.
The second half could not have started more poorly for the Old Pens and it was almost a carbon copy of the first kick off in the match.
This time Penarthians did not secure the kick off and the ball bounced loose into the 22.
A minor recovery meant a scrum was awarded to Markham but, at the set piece, Penarthians were penalised.
Scrum half Davies was again alive to the possibilities and took a quick tap penalty to run in a try untouched from 10 metres.
The conversion was missed but, within a minute of the restart, Markham led 12-6.
This Markham score seemed to deflate the visitors – emphasised straight from the kick off when the ball was caught and a Markham forward ran through four weak, high tackles to break clear into the Penarthians’ half.
Support was on hand when he was eventually stopped and flanker Clark Morgan took up the charge to score under the posts for Nathan Hughes to convert.
There followed two more tries on 11 minutes and 20 minutes through centre Chris Poole and winger Anthony John, one of which was converted by Hughes.
At this stage the score was 31-6 and, with still a quarter of the game to go, a rout seemed to be a possibility.
To their credit Penarthians dug in and, after a couple of attacking scrums, Andy Gill scored an unconverted try after 26 minutes from a flat pass from replacement outside- half Liam Union which missed out the two centres.
Markham were not finished and centre Gareth Price scored the fifth home try, converted by Davies, to lead by 20 points.
Old Penarthians coach Jeff Norman had introduced some fresh legs midway through the half and Union, in particular, seemed to revel in the broken nature of the play in the last quarter and it was from another of his wide passes that Gill scored a second try.
This was somewhat fortuitous as the referee missed a knock on by deClaire that preceded the Gill pick up of the bouncing ball.
The conversion was kicked by McCarthy from wide out on the right touchline.
The final play of the game saw a try for captain Lloyd Davey after a kick ahead by Union had beaten the Markham defensive line, and it was Union who brought the match to an end with a drop kick conversion to make the score 38-25.
At Cwrt-y-vil the Second XV, led by Ian Buckley, played host to a strong Barry team and, from the outset, the result was never really in doubt, with the visitors winning 38-0.
The match featured an interesting duel between returned to fitness Old Penarthian Paul Langley and former Old Penarthian, Julian MacTavish.
The only bright spot for Old Pens, in an otherwise forgettable performance, was scrum half Tom Parkinson.
The next fixture will be at home on March 16, the day of the Wales v England Six Nations clash, when the Firsts meet St Josephs.
The match will kick off at the slightly earlier time of 1.30pm so the players can see the international kick off at 5pm.