Key personnel missing in opening defeat
1:01pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in Sport
OLD PENARTHIANS 13pts
THE first game of a new rugby season always bring challenges to coaches and players as they see if summer training routines and fitness work is going to pay off under match conditions.
For the most part, the team selected to play for Old Penarthians 1st XV last Saturday at home to Rogerstone proved that they had worked hard and new combinations in the forwards and backs linked well. It was unfortunate that some key personnel were still not available and the problem was compounded before kick-off with an enforced change at outside half when Richie Moir’s overnight sleeping position meant his withdrawal during the warm-up session.
It meant that Mark Sadler moved into the No 10 shirt, with James Williams coming in at centre to support Lloyd Davey. The back line was completed by wingers Charles Gore and debutant Elliot Clarke and full back Gareth Welford.
The forwards comprised Lee Brennan and Dale Norris at prop supporting Gareth Boulton; height mismatched second rows Danny Godfrey and debutant Nick Stringer and a trio of experienced backrowers and club captains, Mark Smart, James Evans and Joel deClaire. Joel was, in fact, leading the team for the first time and he was very pleased to have the better of the early stages and, on eight minutes, to take the lead through a Sadler penalty.
The lead was, however, quickly nullified and then overturned by three first-half penalties by Rogerstone outside half Adam Marino. The half was not overly inspiring and was often broken up with fractious displays by both teams, perhaps brought about by some unusual refereeing decisions.
The second half was a more lively and open affair that saw both sides score two tries, with Old Penarthians having a third touchdown by Davey controversially disallowed by the referee. The decision may not have directly affected the overall result but it would have ensured that the Old Pens' fightback had been rewarded with a bonus point.
Penarthians' points came from tries by Clarke and Norris, both from attacking plays that saw forwards and backs combine to make decisive runs at the opposition before moving the ball wide to the wings. The tries were both scored in the corner and the kicks would have been too much for Sadler who, by then, had handed both the kicking duties and outside half berth to Evans. Evans again proved his versatility, with equally good performances in the forwards and backs.
The Rogerstone scores in the second half came from tries from Marino and Ryan Langley. Marino also added a conversion and a penalty. It was a disappointing start to the season for Old Pens but coach Alun Haines would have learnt a lot about his players and the game plan that will have to be developed as the season progresses.
The 2nd XV were away to Llandaff North and, in a game played in excellent spirit, lost 46-29. Penarthians' points came from two tries by Liam Union and one to Louis Lane. Union also kicked two penalties and three conversions.
The result may have been closer but the disadvantage of playing with only 14 players (due to the non-arrival of some selected players) eventually told on those who had previously given 110 per cent. Alongside Union, players deserving of a mention were Rob Adams, Dean deCruise and Mitchell Penberthy (all playing their first games for the club), Rhys Thomas, Sam Hall and Steve Thomas
Unfortunately, a quirk of the fixture list sees both teams playing away this Saturday. The 1st XV go to Bettws and the Seconds to Rhiwbina. Both league games are scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm.