ON A surprisingly cold Saturday afternoon both Old Penarthians Rugby Club teams travelled to Trelai Park in Cardiff to play against Caerau Ely in WRU Division 5SE and CADRU Division 2 league fixtures respectively.
And, if the weather was cold and cheerless, so was the score on the first team pitch where the result seemed a foregone conclusion from the third minute when Caerau scored the first of their 10 tries.
The tries were split evenly, with five in each half, with a hat-trick to the Caerau Ely full back who showed true pace to score two of his tries but, in general, the Old Penarthians' defence was not aggressive enough and there were too many gaps for the opposition to exploit. The remaining points came from four conversions and a penalty. Penarthians could not muster a single point in the 61-point defeat.
As a team, everyone has to take responsibility for the performance and too many players were below par but Romain Mathieu and Lloyd Davey should be congratulated for their efforts particularly in defence. It may have been something of a coincidence that their girlfriends were watching from the touchline.
Joel deClaire and Mark Smart tried to encourage the forwards and, with probably their best effort of the game, a structured maul drove the Caerau forwards back 30 metres to within 10 metres of the try line. The ball was then released to the threequarters but the move was, unfortunately, stopped on the opposite touchline. Caerau then foraged well for the loose ball and broke from within five metres of their own line to score under the Old Penarthians' posts at the opposite end of the pitch.
The line out functioned quite well and, after a few early scrummage reversals, that phase of the game settled down but the supply of ball was insufficient to make inroads into the Caerau monopoly of the attacking phases of the match.
On the second team pitch, the weather was the same but the atmosphere was a lot warmer, where a makeshift team lost by only three points in a 57-point thriller. The final score of 30-27 in favour of Caerau was probably justified but the Penarthians' team played with a lot of spirit in defeat.
Star performer was Tim Naylor who scored two tries. One was an interception from halfway, the other an individual effort that saw him break clear of the first line of defence and then kick ahead. His kick was so precise that it hit the crossbar between the posts and bounced down into his arms for him to score the try.
Other tries were scored by Alex Lewis and Tom Parkinson, with the latter sprinting home from 20 metres with his usual short, quick stepping stride becoming shorter and slower as he approached the try line before falling to his knees to score. Gareth Boulton kicked two conversions and a penalty for the remaining points.
Next Saturday the 1st XV play their last home game of the league campaign with a fixture against New Panteg. It is hoped that the efforts in training will reward the coaches and that a positive attitude will ensure a competitive match that is due to kick off at 2.30pm. The 2nd XV do not have a fixture.