Disillusioned team still pointless
9:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in Penarth sport
OLD PENARTHIANS 12
ON Saturday the Old Penarthians Rugby Club Firsts visited Bettws for the first time in their history in the second of their WRU National League Division 5SE fixtures but, unfortunately, it will not be a match that lasts long in memory following a defeat, which leaves them without a league point from their first two outings of the season.
The team travelled optimistically after a couple of good training sessions and with Tim Ursal, Tony Kemp and Jon Crimp making their seasonal debuts. That optimism grew on arrival when it was heard that Bettws were struggling to raise a team and that their most recent training night had been attended by only four players.
Eventually, Bettws managed to organise a team of 15 players but, in the absence of suitably trained front row forwards, were forced to commence the game with passive scrummages. This situation is never satisfactory and is something that should not occur without some form of points penalty or loss of game imposed on the offending team. However, the WRU in their endeavours to ensure matches are fulfilled agree to this course of action, with the only minor reprimand being the fact that the team without a front row are not allowed any substitutes.
The fact that the home team were restricted in this manner should have encouraged the Old Penarthians. However, it seemed to have the opposite effect, with players thinking it would be a stroll that did not demand an intensity that is needed to win any game of rugby.
Bettws, on the other hand, knew their limitations and threw themselves into the contest with a spirit that Old Penarthians could not match. Therefore, in a disastrous first 20 minutes, the two opposite reactions led to Bettws building up a 17-point lead through tries by Mike Thomas, Wayne Whitehead and Brian Bradford with a conversion by Matthew Tapp.
Penarthians knuckled down in the remaining 20 minutes and exerted pressure through darting runs by scrum-half Josh Davies supported by Dale Norris, Mark Sadler, Elliot Clarke and Danny Godfrey. Skipper Joel deClaire almost scored in the corner just before half time but was pushed into touch in the act of scoring. Several opportunities to kick goals were scorned in this period as Bettws eventually felt the pressure and gave away penalties so at half-time the score was17-0.
A half-time rollicking from coaches Alun Haines and Scott McCarthy ensured that the players were more focused from the restart and, with simple use of the ball won cleanly by the forwards, two tries were scored in the first eight minutes through Charles Gore and Elliot Clarke, with a conversion from Jon Crimp. A third try, which Lee Brennan considered he scored, was denied by the referee as the ball was hidden beneath a pile of bodies.
This may have swung the result, but, despite further good lineout possession from ‘new boy’ Nick Stringer, the threequarters over complicated the movements which resulted in lost opportunities. There were, however, chances from broken play and Gareth Welford, on as a substitute for James Williams, twice led counter attacks that only required a last pass or a committed run to provide further points.
Those points did not, however, arrive and it was Bettws who finished the stronger, scoring the best try of the game through full back Bradford, converted by Tapp.
It was, therefore, a very disillusioned team that left Gwent on their journey home, giving them much to ponder upon as they seek their first league points of the season.
Their mood was not improved with the news that the 2nd XV had lost 49-0 to Sully Sports in a CADRU league fixture. It was a game that was dominated by a very lively Sports team who, ironically, punished an Old Penarthians team that had to compete with passive scrums from the start.
This Saturday sees both teams playing at home to Sully Sports and Rhiwbina respectively. Kick off times at Cwrt-y-vil are 2.30pm.