WHEN these teams met earlier in the season, Old Penarthians conceded a last-minute penalty to lose by a single point. The team also had to play with uncontested scrummages due to the absence of a front row.

Therefore, before Saturday's match, there was a degree of optimism that this could be the team’s second win in March.

The start of the game showed that this optimism was not misplaced as the team went into a seven-point lead after eight minutes when a quickly-taken penalty by Gareth Clancey saw second row Alun Haines in the wing position cross easily for a try. Jon Crimp converted.

The penalty came, ironically, from a scrummage which was dominant throughout the match. Forwards Lee Brennan, Gareth Boulton and Mike Jones consistently exerted pressure on their opposite numbers and the home team were always making progress. That dominance was added to by the efficient line out work by Mark Smart and Haines that guaranteed a surfeit of possession.

The lead was extended on 14 minutes when a Crimp penalty kick punished Taffs Well indiscipline at the ruck area.

That lead was, however, cut to three points when Clancey was stripped of the ball on the 22 metres line and the opposition scored under the posts for a converted try.

Another scrummage infringement by Taffs Well led to another successful kick by Crimp and a 13-7 lead.

Then came10 minutes of play that did not do any credit to the team as a whole or to the threequarters, in particular, when poor handling in attacking positions and weak tackling after the mistakes led to Taffs Well scoring three unanswered tries. Two of these were converted and the visitors led 26-13.

Captain Joel deClaire did, however, manage to rally his team and play was again focused in the Taffs Well half. From broken play, a ruck was formed and, to everyone’s surprise, winger Romain Mathieu broke free to pass to new dad, Danny Godfrey, who crossed unopposed. Crimp converted and the half-time score was 26-20 in favour of the visitors.

In the second half Old Penarthians were again the stronger team, leading to Taffs Well opting for passive scrummages. Tom Sidford was to the fore with strong carries of the ball around the ruck and maul areas with support from Smart and Jones. The final release was, however, often misjudged and the ball passed to the backs left them under pressure from the defence.

Centres Gareth Moorcraft and Craig Haines tried their best but the most effective running came from wingers Elliot Clarke and Mathieu. In fact, Mathieu was the stand out player on the pitch with two strong attacking runs that should have been more profitable for the home team.

Therefore, despite the Old Penarthians’ territorial and possession advantages, the second half was scoreless and a bonus point in defeat was scant consolation from a match which should have seen a victory.

Next Saturday the 1st XV play away to fellow league strugglers Cardiff Saracens at Roath Park. The Seconds are trying for a home fixture and all players are urged to attend the clubhouse in time for the scheduled starts of 2.30pm.