Union's 25-point haul in veterans clash
3:01pm Wednesday 30th October 2013 in Penarth sport
SECOND TRY: Determined Liam Union on his way to his second try and a 25-point haul. Picture: Ken Langley.
WITH no league fixtures for the 1st and 2nd XVs, it was the turn of the Old Penarthians Veterans XV to take centrestage last Saturday in a friendly fixture against Sully.
The match was contested in a manner that befits local rivals with a wealth of experience. There was attacking back play at the start, aggression from the forwards as the play slowed up and eventually missed tackles from tiring bodies, but, overall, there was a sense of humour.
The final scoreline of 40-17 in favour of the Old Penarthians does not, however, tell the whole story and the match was competitive throughout, with Sully scoring the last points. It was, in fact, one of the Penarthians' non-qualified Veterans who was a major influence on the game, with Liam Union scoring three tries and five conversions for a 25-point contribution.
The younger legs of Union and fellow centre and try scorer Tim Naylor (making a welcome return from a serious knee injury) were, however, balanced by the less young legs of some of the forwards in the shape of Mark Curtis, Gavin Seymour, Steve Newman and Neil Margetson, who entertained a large crowd of spectators. But it was the Old Penarthians' legend Dio Martin who raised the biggest cheer of the day when he crossed for a try after support play that has typified his 40-year playing career.
Alun Haines and Paul Langley also brought a wealth of experience to the team which was a counter to substitute Sam Hall who is at the start of his career in the front row and will soon be available for first team duty as he has reached his 18th birthday.
Another young and old combination within the Sully ranks featured father and son Damian and Lloyd Barry playing together and both contributing to the match. As did Dave Butler, the Sully scrum half who scored a try in the first half which ended with an interval score of 21-5.
The second half was a little more disjointed as regular substitutions were made but the introduction of Alex Lewis brought another score for the second team try machine, which was converted by Union. Sully scored second-half tries through Butler and Chris Dunscombe, who also added a conversion.
Tom Parkinson was a lively scrum half and James Williams, Tony Kemp and Noel Etxragaray ensured that the first team were represented.
Veterans’ rugby was, however, exemplified by ex-Pontypool players Peter Bennett and Derek Mbakwe, who were reunited in a rugby match for the first time since the late 90s and they hope that their aching bodies recover sufficiently to repeat the exercise in December when the Veterans play their next match.
Captain Robert Crimp will hope that a few more of the elder statesmen may make themselves available for that fixture to ensure that the spirit of rugby can be maintained even in the twilight of some careers.
Next Saturday both the Old Penarthians' senior teams have home league fixtures against Cardiff Saracens and Fairwater respectively and all spectators will be welcome for kick offs at 2.30pm.