IN many ways Saturday, April 27, was a day to remember in the recent history of Penarth RFC. Though a depleted senior club, XV succumbed to an in form Pentyrch RFC by a six tries to two, on a windswept Parc y Dwrlyn at Pentyrch.
Dominated in all areas of the game, Penarth battled bravely to score a brace of tries through centre James Candy and lock forward Jon Boland, on each side of the break.
Captained for the first time by hooker Joe Page, they were very much in contention by half time, playing against a very strong wind, with Stuart Clarke, Matt Sutton, Ollie Laity, Paul Collett and Grant Robson – the backs coach deputising at fullback for the injured Rhys Morgan – giving a good account of themselves.
However, a number of defensive errors, a dysfunctional line-out and a less then effective scrum doomed the team’s better efforts.
On the same day and at the same time a selection of old and new Penarth hands calling themselves Penarth Invitation XV entertained Morley RFC, a Yorkshire club on tour in Wales, losing a good-natured game 34-25, at the Recreation Ground.
Former chairman Mike Gooding, who was on linesman duty at Pentyrch, said: "The last time Penarth fielded two teams during the same weekend must have been in the early 1990s."
What the two matches had in common, other than the absence of so many of the first team regulars, was that they enabled eight of the youth players who played for the team, who defeated the Crawshays Youth on Good Friday, to make their first team debut.
Miles Jones, nowadays a student at Loughborough University, Youth captain Connor Kavanah and scrum-half Tom Hillman were the three youngsters who travelled to Pentyrch with the seniors, while the other five, Kieran Carpenter, Ben Thomas, Luke Crockett, Rob Rees and Mason Goode appeared for the Invitation XV, captained on the day by their own forwards coach and prop emeritus Andy Pyman.
Club chairman and No8 Mike Clare said: “The fact that the club has raised two senior teams who played at the same time on Saturday is quite remarkable and should give us some reasons for optimism, though the last few matches of the senior side have been quite disappointing.
“The club overall is in good health, with several of the age groups doing exceptionally well overall. The Youth coached by Colin Laity, Andy Pyman and Richard Smith managed to defeat a strong Crawshays Youth for the first time ever. This is indeed very commendable and several of their players were rewarded with first team debuts this weekend.”
One hopes that the success of the youth against the Crawshays will act as an incentive for the talented generation of U16s, coached by former Wales outside-half Dai Evans, to join the ranks of the Penarth Youth next season.
The U16s finished their season with a spectacular 42-21 win against the Catalonia Regional XV last week in Barcelona.
Head coach Dai Evans said: “This was our last game of the season and also the last game as an age-group and it was great for the boys to finish with such a good win, against such a strong side."
The U14s, coached by former Penarth wing-forward Dai Williams, have also brought home foreign silverware, having won the Dungarwan RC Challenge Cup in Ireland, undefeated.
Another Penarth age group making a splash are the U13s who play CRICC in one of the semi-finals of the Regional age-group competition Redrow Homes Blues Cup, while the club’s U12s have gone one better in the same Blues Cup by defeating Cowbridge 26-14 to reach the final against the Abercwmboi on May 11, at Cardiff Arms Park.
U12s Head Coach Jason Allen, a former Penarth first team regular, said: "I am quite pleased with the way the boys have progressed this season. There are 28 clubs in our section of the Blues Cup and reaching the final is not too bad.
"We started the season with some heavy defeats, against Cowbridge, CRICC and St Peters and it was quite rewarding for the boys to defeat Cowbridge in the semi-final.
"We have a policy here that enables every boy to play and this has given the team a strong bond. The boys enjoy it, the parents love it and the coaches, Nigel Boucher, Phil Musa and Warren Evans and of course myself enjoy it. So it is all good fun."
Pentyrch 43 - Penarth 12
Penarth RFC: Grant Robson, Paul Collett, Oliver Laity, James Candy, James Crothers, James Docherty, Tom Hillman, Mike Clare, Matt Sutton, Miles Jones, Stuart Clarke, Jon Boland, Sean O’Sullivan, Joe Page (captain), Jerome Bryan (Connor Kavanah)
Tries: J Candy, J Boland, (conv) J Docherty