THE warmth had not quite returned to the air last Saturday but the spectators at the Old Penarthians Rugby Club 1st XV home game against New Panteg in the National League 5SE fixture were glowing after watching their side triumph.

It was a result that overturned a narrow loss earlier in the season and was thoroughly deserved as the team earned a bonus point in a four-try victory. They also had to withstand a fairly brutal onslaught in the last 15 minutes but Mark Smart led a mature performance that saw the team keep their composure.

The fact that the result was achieved without three of their regular players in captain Joel deClaire, second row Tom Sidford and outside half Jon Crimp also says much for the team spirit.

The team was, however, enhanced on the day with permit players Dean Pratt and Karime Hassam and they played an important part in a pack that dominated the scrummaging throughout, as well as providing a plentiful supply of line-out ball.

Dale Norris, whilst handicapped by a knee injury, still managed a trademark run, Danny Godfrey was eager in defence and Alun Haines and Lee Brennan ensured control at the mauls that often made good ground. But it was part-time pilot and second row, Paul Rapley, who was the stand out contributor to the forward effort with an all-round performance that belied his age. He withstood the pace of the game well and his 10-minute enforced rest ensured he was still running at the end.

The threequarters more than contributed to the match and they scored all the points from the platform provided by the forwards.

The first points came after 25 minutes when a break by Lloyd Davey saw a final pass reach Charlie Gore who scored an unconverted try. Gore had a second chance five minutes later but the ball was knocked from his grasp in the act of touching down. Right on half-time, Scott McCarthy kicked a penalty for an 8-0 interval lead

With the wind in their faces in the second half, the period could not have started better when, from a New Panteg attack from within their own half, Gore made a hard tackle to free the ball. The forwards retrieved the ball and Elliot Clarke kicked ahead from his own 10 metres line. Clarke then collected the bouncing ball to score a try.

From the kick-off, the ball was caught by Rapley who drove forward with support. Gareth Clancey passed to Clarke, who passed to Davey and onto Craig Haines. McCarthy came on a loop and fed onto Gareth Moorcraft who, with a deft reverse pass, released McCarthy to run in unopposed. McCarthy missed the conversion.

The rest of the half was fractious and Penarthians used their substitutes wisely by bringing on Andy Gill, Sam Hall, Alex Lewis and James Williams at the right times, and the last try was scored by Williams, and converted by Moorcraft, with 10 minutes remaining.

Next Saturday the 1st XV play an away league fixture at Machen and the 2nd XV return to action with a game at Llandaff North. Both games kick off at 2.30pm.