THE Old Penarthians Rugby Club U7s (Titans) returned to Llantwit Major last weekend - the scene of a narrow cup final defeat last year - for the Cardiff and Vale U7s district tournament and enjoyed a very different result.
Extensive efforts have gone into the mini and junior section at the Old Penarthians and many of the U7s players have come through the U6s development squad; a testament to the club and its commitment to local rugby.
For this reason, the Titans were able to field three sides.
The A team played a strong Llanishen side but showed their quality, running out as 6-1 winners with notable performances from Oliver Long and James Bennett. They were joined in victory by the B team, whilst the C team managed a respectable draw.
The C team battled in a very tough group with many of the younger players such as Alfie Gore, Gabriel Chandler and Ethan Galsworthy combining for some great runs and tries. Their efforts were rewarded with a place in the Plate quarter-finals where they fought bravely before losing out by one try. A fantastic effort from some of the younger and newer players, including Freddie Evans, Ethan Beasley, Dylan Prosser, Lewis Tollerfield and Luke Summerfield.
The B team had the hardest battle to reach the knockout stages, playing five games and with more wins than defeats gaining them a place in the Plate quarter-finals. Louis Lawrence scored several tries, with some excellent defensive work from Morgan Pendleton-Jones and Macsen Callaghan. Joe Francis-Oaten and Max Pratt combined well in both attack and defence, displaying the strong team ethic at the Titans. Wins in the quarter and semi-finals gained the B team a place in the Plate final against Cardiff side Rumney.
The A team met local rivals Cowbridge in the cup quarter-final, a fixture played in the true spirit of rugby. Great running from Gethin Dobbs-Evans and support play from William Davis helped the team to a convincing victory and a semi-final against CRICC. In the semi-final, Jericho Perkins showed the opposition a clean pair of heels for a brace of tries to book the A team a place in the cup final.
Up first was the Plate final for the B team, with tensions high for all involved from players and coaches through to parents. Both teams were evenly matched, but some excellent defence allowed the Titans to gain an advantage on the scoreboard. A vital turnover led to some great interplay between Dylan Davies and Callum O'Brien who set up Neirin Gilani for the winning score and the first silverware for the Titans! The joy on the players' faces as they embraced each other was a great moment in their short history.
With their Titans teammates victorious, it fell to the A team to emulate their counterparts in the cup final. The A team raced to an early advantage with two quickfire tries and some great defence. A break from the Titans looked to be another score, but a foot in touch denied them and a small defensive lapse allowed Rumney in for their first try. With the Titans failing to score on their next possession, Rumney were able to tie the scores. It is possible the match turned on one tag, with their opponents breaking out of defence and, with the try line beckoning, Connor Kennedy sprinted the length of the pitch to make a vital tag and gain his team the ball. Josh King, who had been outstanding all day in both defence and attack was central to the next Titans score which secured a much-deserved victory. A proud Haydn Craven, the team captain collected the trophy on behalf of his exhausted teammates to complete a magnificent day for the young team.
Coach Ryan Pratt said: "What a day! This was a cracking effort by all the Titans and there was great support from the parents. A bunch of super proud coaches."
Coach Stu Barter said: "The boys played with great pride in the jersey and club badge over their hearts. Most importantly they played for fun and for each other. They are a remarkable bunch of young men and an honour to coach."