OLD Penarthians first XV travelled to their National League Division 5SE fixture at Machen last Saturday in good spirits following the victory the previous week against New Panteg.
It was also good to welcome back captain Joel deClaire and fellow Vegas adventurer Tom Sidford, although it was disappointing that star performers Karine Hassam and Paul Rapley were unavailable.
Other changes saw the introduction of Tony Kemp into the front row instead of injured prop Dale Norris and a first start of the season for second team try-machine Alex Lewis.
It was however the home team that started the better and after two minutes Machen took the lead through a penalty kick. This lead was extended after 15 minutes when a move from a scrum saw Machen score an unconverted try.
Old Penarthians then had a period of attack that resulted in a series of lineouts near the Machen tryline. Forward drives led by Alun Haines, Lee Brennan and Steff Wells were resisted but a maul ensued, from which Gareth Clancey passed to the blindside for Lewis to catch and stretch out to score a try converted by Crimp.
This try allowed the back line to play with confidence and the passing and running off the ball by centres Gareth Moorcraft and Craig Haines created spaces on several occasions for hard running fullback Lloyd Davey.
It was however the defensive frailties of the side that saw the final score of the half go to Machen when poor alignment and lack of commitment give the home team a 13 – 7 interval lead.
From the restart a blind side kick by Crimp was chased well by Elliot Clarke who pressurised the defending full back to kick to touch with little ground gained. The line out saw Mark Smart and Dean Pratt commit the defence but the ball was lost and Machen cleared their lines.
Penarthians were however right back in the game when Davey burst through two defenders within his own twenty two and ran into open field. As other Machen players attempted to tackle him Davey sprinted away for a solo effort try, converted by Crimp for a 14 - 13 lead.
The lead was short lived and in the next eight minutes the game was handed to Machen when they scored three tries, two of which were kicked by the Machen number 10 who orchestrated the dramatic turn around. During this phase of the game he must have thought it was his birthday as gaps opened for him whenever he wanted. Unfortunately the only card he received was of the red variety from the referee when he was seen throwing a punch towards the end of the game.
The damage to the Penarthians had however already been inflicted as Machen had scored two more tries and a conversion for a 46 – 14 lead. Penarthians did however have the last word with a try from Sidford and a conversion from Crimp but it was too late for a comeback and the team lost by 46 – 21.
Next Saturday the 1st XV play their last match of the season in a rearranged fixture away to Sully Sports. The second XV are looking for a home fixture and it is hoped that both games will kick off at 2.30pm.