THE Old Penarthians RFC Under 7s (Titans) headed to their second tournament in three weeks last Sunday, this time at Pencoed RFC Festival of Rugby.
The OPRFC Titans entered three teams and along with their fellow under 8s were ready for a real club day out. The players were joined by their families on two coaches chartered just for the event. The weather forecast was grim but the anticipation on the coaches was bright and the under 7s’ Titans were lining up their second trophy to add to their District Tournament win.
A slightly different format for the tournament saw two Old Pens u7s’ sides in Group 2 and a third side entered into Group 1 with the hosts. The Titans Blues kicked off proceedings with some great performances from the younger and less experienced players. Harry Edwards and Caleb Isherwood scored their first competitive tries and were joined on the score sheet by playmaker Alfie Gore. Blues' captain Freddie Evans added a brace of tries, some with the help of team mate Luke Summerfield who was very clever at the restarts. A Special mention to Ethan Galsworthy who shook off not one but two knocks to show his determination to play for his team with a huge tag tackle count and a respectable number of tries. The Blues improved as the day progressed and even gave their more experienced club-mates a scare in the third round.
The Reds started off brightly with some great tries from distance by Dylan Davies assisted by Evan Friis who had rushed to the tournament from his trip to Spain. Morgan Pendleton-Jones continued with his elusive running evading tags for fun. Oliver Long captained his side passionately, inspiring the likes of Max Pratt to have one of his best performances. Wil Seeley gained a bloodied nose for his heroics towards the end of the day but was rewarded when he witnessed team-mate Louis Lawrence evade tags and defenders to put Callum O’Brien over in the corner for a victory in their final Group game.
The Greens started the day with a very strong performance against Bedwas, achieving a convincing 6 - 0 victory. Next up for the Titans was a strong Valley’s Ravens team. Some fantastic interplay between William Davis and Haydn Craven folded the defence giving the OPRFC Titans vital space in which to release pace man Gethin Dobbs-Evans. Some ferocious defence from Macsen Callaghan helped his team to a 5 - 1 victory. Up next, an inter-club fixture of Blues v Greens with the Green team edging their less experienced friends.
Cwmbran were the Titans fourth opponents and another great defensive effort, notably from Connor Kennedy allowed team-mate James Bennett to score a brace of tries with the eventual score 4 - 0 in the Titans favour. Their penultimate group game saw the Titans take on Blackwood in a hard fought encounter in which they went behind for the first time in the tournament. Teamwork got them back ahead where they stayed to record a 4 - 3 victory. The final group game against a confident Bridgend Athletic side, witnessed the boys regain confidence to record a victory 5 - 2 and secure their place in the final.
Their opponents in the final were also the event hosts and group one winners, Pencoed RFC. The day had been excellently organized, a real credit to the host. The Old Penarthians had already played 6 games to get to the final but knew only 10 minutes and the hosts stood in their way of their second cup of the season. The bad weather was still holding off and under darkening skies the final kicked off.
The OPRFC Titans raced to an early 2 - 0 lead, showing the slick passing and committed defence that had served them so well earlier in the day. However, tired legs began to take their toll and a few uncharacteristic mistakes caused them to turn over the ball and allow the hosts back into the game. Both sides matched each other try for try whilst anxious parents looked on from the touchlines, willing their boys for one final effort. As time expired, with the scores tied at 5 - 5 the Titans had one last chance for victory. Haydn Craven spun the ball out to Gethin Dobbs-Evans who made one of his customary breaks but could find no way around the wall of Pencoed defenders, with a final throw of the dice he threw a long pass to Jericho Perkins who hauled in the pass and made a formidable break for the try line. With just yards to go a desperate tag appeared to have put pay to the Titans hopes however a quick offload from Jericho found the ever present Joshua King running onto the ball at pace to score in the corner. A proud William Davis led his weary team and all the other Titans up to receive their medals and the Cup.
Coach Ritchie Craven said: “It was really emotional at the end, heart in your mouth stuff and for the boys to come together in such a way and go on to win the tournament speaks volumes about these young men.” The under 8s’ Coach Gerard Powell was pleased with his teams efforts. He said that they played some excellent rugby in amongst a large number of good teams. They missed out on the final by one win. Ritchie continued “this win and all our teams and players here represent the unity they have with our club - The Old Penarthians.”