Loss of fizz hits Old Pens Firsts

SUPREME: Reach for the sky . . . Old Penarthians lock Alun Haines, a try scorer, was supreme at line out.

ROMAN CHARGE: Allez la France . . . Old Penarthians newcomer Roman Mathieu goes for broke.

ACTION MAN: Excuse me please . . . Always in the thick of the action, Old Penarthians' Nick Vaggas declines a tackle.

First published in Sport

OLD PENARTHIANS RFC 1st XV 14pts

MACHEN 32

THE long-suffering supporters of the Old Penarthians Rugby Club Firsts faced another frustrating Saturday afternoon when the sparkle that had featured in the champagne-like performance of the previous week was replaced by the distinctly flat beer content of this home defeat.

The Gwent visitors, comfortably ensconced in the higher echelons of the Division 5 table, were expected to provide much sterner opposition than Newport Saracens but the hosts will know that two and possibly three of the five tries recorded in the 32-14 scoreline came directly as the result of errors of judgement or poor play on their part.

Indeed, the first came after only six minutes when home pressure was repulsed in the face of the speedy counter that produced a fine try for centre Martin Ridley, with co-centre Lewis Waldren adding the conversion.

The Old Boys soon responded with an equally fine score from lock Alun Haines who capped some good handling with a dummy and sidestep that took him over halfway out. Jonathan Crimp added the extra points.

Waldren’s subsequent penalty restored the Machen lead, but it was a wayward clearance that paved the way for the counter that ended with winger Marlon Jackson evading the despairing clutches of two final defenders as he crossed on the left.

Ahead 15-7 at the break, Machen extended that lead immediately after the restart when the home defence stood and watched as outside-half James Kessells took a quick penalty and scampered across before a hand could be placed upon him. Waldren again added the extra points but was wide of the mark in the 59th minute when prop Ollie Curtis put the finishing touch to the end of an excellent forward drive.

Penarthians responded with a fine score of their own when newcomer Roman Mathieu opened up cleverly on the left before creating the link that saw Elliott Clarke scorch over in the right hand corner. Crimp converted with a superb kick from wide out to put an end to the home scoring, whilst Machen enjoyed the last word when the excellent Waldren followed up his own delightful chip to the corner to win the touchdown for a final unconverted try.

Although this was yet another defeat, there were areas of encouragement for the Old Boys that must build confidence for the future. Up front, Haines was in prime line out form, whilst Nick Vaggas, on permit from neighbours Dinas Powys, was always in the thick of the action. Good work, too, came from skipper Joel De Claire, Mark Smart, and Dale Norris, whilst Steve Thomas put in a creditable scrum-half performance as replacement for the injured Gareth Clancy.

The backs did not always display the freedom that had been evidenced the previous week, but Mathieu is, undoubtedly, an asset who will prosper in the weeks ahead, whilst Clarke is now back in try-scoring mode, with Lloyd Davey continuing to exploit the lines of running that can cause confusion in opposing ranks.

Saturday’s final Six Nations confrontations mean that sides are not in action this weekend although the Firsts are at home to Taffs Well a week later and opponents are being sought for the Seconds.

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