Old Penarthians: League opponents cry off, but Old Boys enjoy friendly draw against strong Llantrisant side
8:00am Thursday 18th October 2012 in Sport
SUPPORT JUMPER: In Saturday's clash with Llantrisant, Old Penarthians' Joel deClaire jumps in a line out supported by Lee Brennan. Picture: Peter Marks.
Old Penarthians 1st XV 22 LLANTRISANT 2nd XV 22
ON Saturday Old Penarthians Rugby Club 1st XV were due to play at home against Markham RFC in a SWALEC Division 5SE fixture. Unfortunately, at 7pm the day prior to the match, the Markham secretary telephoned to say that his club had insufficient players to raise a team and the game would, therefore, have to be cancelled.
This was a big disappointment to the Old Pens as they were looking forward to continuing their recent improvement against a side that had lost by over 70 points the week previously. Markham are, in fact, in their first season of Division 5 rugby having been promoted at the end of last season and it may not bode well for the rest of the year if they are struggling to raise a team at this early part of the season. That said they are not the only side who have not fulfilled fixtures this year.
Local rivals Dinas Powys also found themselves without a game on the opening weekend of the season when scheduled opponents Rhigos could not raise a side and last weekend they were again resting because South Wales Police, once a force within the Welsh Rugby Union who produced Welsh internationals, have gone out of existence.
It is something that the WRU may have to address in the future when they look at the composition of the leagues to ensure that clubs have sufficient player resources to make a commitment for the full season. In the meantime it is hoped that the Markham situation is a one-off and that Old Penarthians can entertain them later in the season.
The late withdrawal did not, however, faze fixture secretary Jon Vaughan and, at short notice, he managed to arrange another fixture at home against Llantrisant 2nd XV. Whilst this may have seemed something of a mismatch, it proved to be a well fought contest against a second team who represent a club who play in Division 2 of the national leagues and who, the week before, had scored over 80 points against their Caerphilly opposition.
It was obvious from the start that many of the Llantrisant team had 1st XV experience and were keen to compete for their first team places. This ensured an entertaining match that ended in draw with both teams scoring 22 points.
The Old Penarthians can, however, take the credit for outscoring their opponents by four tries to three and, whilst it may have been unfair on the Llantrisant team, Scott McCarthy, on as a second half replacement, had an opportunity to win the match for Old Pens with a penalty kick two minutes into injury time at the end of the game.
Back at the start of the match, it was Llantrisant who had the best of the early exchanges and, after eight minutes, it was full-back Martin Griffiths who ran in from 15 metres to score a try converted by Scott Curnell. There was, however, a well structured response from Penarthians, with forwards and backs combining well off short sharp passes from outside-half Huw Morgan. This was exemplified when prop Dale Norris broke through in midfield to find centre Andy Gill in support, and only strong defence foiled the Penarthians attack.
Other attacks were, however, not quite so direct and, having established territory and potential overlaps, the moves broke down when long passes were thrown instead of the ball moving from player to player and taking advantage of the superior numbers.
On 15 minutes, however, Penarthians won their own line out when an accurate throw from Mark Smart was caught by James Cosslett. The remaining forwards converged on the ball and, from the ensuing maul and drive, Lee Brennan scored the try.
It was then Llantrisant’s turn to attack and test the Penarthians defence. In general, it stood firm, with Noel Etxragary, Simon Barry, Tom Sidford and Joel deClaire prominent. It was, however, Barry who was penalised on 20 minutes for an illegal tackle and Curnell extended the Llantrisant lead to 10-5 with a penalty.
Old Penarthians continued to press behind a strong scrummage that saw Brennan, Norris and Barry outmuscle their opposition to ensure good ball for Simon Davies to get his threequarters moving. A score would not, however, come and it was Owen Saunders from the visitors who touched down for an unconverted try after 34 minutes.
There was still time to exert pressure and, at the end of the first half, two penalty awards in quick succession saw the Llantrisant second row yellow carded and, from a line out in the 22, the ball was set up for a Gill drive into midfield. The ruck was quickly won and fed to Morgan who off-loaded to Barry. He sold a dummy with men wide out but crashed over for a try that was converted by Morgan. Half time score 12-15.
The second half could not have started better for the home team when an attack by Llantrisant led to a pass being spilled, and Cosslett picked up the ball and ran 25 metres to score an unconverted try.
Llantrisant, now back to full strength, were back in the lead, however, after 11 minutes through a try and conversion by scrum half Curnell. That was not the end of the action and, following an interception and run by winger Richie Moir, he passed to Gill, who passed the ball around his back when he was tackled to release Davies who scored a try wide out. The try was unconverted and the final score was 22-22.
This was a good team performance against well organised opposition and it showed how improved Lloyd Davey’s team have become since the start of the season, with players coping well under pressure in defence as well as looking at attacking options when they are presented. With a little more confidence in certain phases of play, the side can look forward positively to the rest of the season.
ON the adjacent pitch at Cwrt-y-vil, the 2nd XV entertained Cardiff Harlequins in a CADRU league encounter. This, too, was a well balanced affair with both teams showing attacking options that made for a free flowing game.
Unfortunately, the game had to be abandoned after 55 minutes after a Harlequins player was hit on the side of the head and suffered a neck injury. He was immediately given assistance by his own team’s physiotherapist, supplemented by the skills of Buckley and Bow learnt during the course of their fire-fighting careers. After some deliberation it was decided that an ambulance should be called to ensure that no serious injury was sustained.
It meant that the score line of 19 points to 17 to the Harlequins was recorded in the referee’s notebook and it will now be up to the league to determine whether this result will stand or the game will be rearranged. Both teams were, however, in agreement that a replay would be the best result as there are spare weekends later in the season.
The Old Penarthians' scores came from Alun Haines, following a pushover try, from Tom Parkinson who stretched to his full height of 4ft 10in to score a try after a kick charge down by Paul Kemp and the try of the match when Charles Gore took a reverse pass from Alan Harris, who had previously split the Harlequins defence, and raced 50 yards.
Unfortunately, Harris was injured in giving the pass and was himself taken to hospital to be diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder. His pain was eased by the attention he received from the second Cardiff Harlequins physiotherapist and it is hoped that her subsequent treatment will see Harris able to resume his rugby at an early stage.
Scott McCarthy kicked a conversion to complete the scorers. Players who performed well were Stuart Clarke, Andy Jeffers and the ageless Paul Kemp and it was good to see that Gareth Boulton was injury free during the shortened game.
On Saturday the 1st XV entertain Cefn Coed at home. This fixture was initially scheduled to be played away but the venue has been swapped to accommodate Cefn Coed. The 2nd XV will make the short journey to Llandaff Fields where their opponents will be Clwb Rygbi Caerdydd. Both matches are due to kick off at 2.30pm.