OLD Penarthians recorded their fifth straight victory in WRU league Division 3 East Central (B) when they defeated second placed St Albans 15-12.

It is the teams sixth victory in seven league fixtures since 1st December and the seventh overall in the same period if you include the victory against Penarth on Boxing Day

The scoreline last Saturday again reflected the closeness of the contest but in this match it was always St Albans who were chasing the game after Old Penarthians started so emphatically.

After 2 minutes Old Pens scored their first try, when from a lineout throw from Fairwater permit, Dan Morgan, the ball was caught well by James Beaton, Louis Chandler drove into midfield before passing to Tomos Hillman.

Hillman passed to Nathan Smith on the opposition 10m line. Smith broke the first line of defence and after two further ineffectual tackles he ran through to score under the posts. Nathan Facey converted and Old Pens led by seven.

Now it was the turn of St Albans to attack and only after good work from Liam Bevan driving into contact with support from the forwards after a solid defensive 5m scrum did Smith clear the danger with a long touch finding kick upfield.

The Buns, showing why they are the second-best team in the league at the moment, were soon back inside the Old Pens twenty-two and exerted pressure for the next 10 minutes.

They were however met with an equally determined fifth placed team and the defence was solid with Joel deClaire, Jordan McDonnell and Matt Sutton prominent in these phases of the game.

When Old Penarthians relieved the pressure a St Albans scrum inside their own half was solid despite the efforts of Sam Hall, Morgan and McDonnel and the ball was released to the threequarters.

The centre’s kick was partially charged down by acting captain Jon Crimp, but still went forward into Old Pens territory.

Here the ball was collected by Facey who ran forward. As he crossed the line of the original kick he found Crimp in support. The pass was well-timed and Crimp advanced into the Buns’ half of the field.

With defenders advancing Crimp straightened his running line and as the defender committed himself passed to winger John Patterson. Patterson opted to step inside the last line of defence and crossed for his first try of the season in sixteen appearances.

The conversion was unsuccessful but after 17 minutes Old Pens led 12-0.

There was not the usual lapse of concentration at the kick off and Beaton collected the ball and drove into midfield. With support from the threequarters the ball was transferred to Patterson but this time his run and kick ahead led only to a 22 drop out to St Albans

Penarthians were soon attacking again this time through the forwards with Sutton, Scott Mackie and Beaton again to the fore. But it was the defence that was to be tested for the rest of the half as St Albans mounted concerted attacks. The penalty count was adding up and eventually Beaton was unluckily shown a yellow card for an accumulation of team penalties.

The resulting scrum to St Albans was solid and a predetermined attacking move saw fullback and coach Michael Thomas put through a space to score unopposed under the posts. The conversion was good and the half time whistle was blown with Old Pens leading 12-7.

The second half started as the first half ended with St Albans attacking. Beaton returning to the fray after his rest made a try-saving tackle but reinjured his shoulder in the process and was replaced by Andrew Hillbourne.

Penarthians responded after 15 minutes and gained territory through two well controlled rolling mauls. Hillbourne, Hall and Mackie were in the vanguard and when St Albans were penalised for an infringement at an ensuing ruck Facey kicked the three points on offer.

The restart was collected by deClaire who passed to Smith. The long kick upfield was caught by the Buns winger who ran it back 40m through some poor tackling.

He found support from the forwards and with a concerted drive the St Albans flanker scored a try. The conversion was missed but Old Pens lead was closed to three points.

Penarthians now have stronger resolve than in previous seasons and were not to be denied. deClaire again powered forward from a scrum.

Hillman was in support with Hillbourne and McDonnell. They drove forward and Buns were penalised for ‘lazy running’.

A kick to the corner resulted and five minutes of sustained pressure on the home team’s tryline. A penalty conceded allowed St Albans to clear.

With five minutes remaining Danny Godfrey replaced a tiring Chandler but the victory was only ensured after a cover tackle from Smith pushed the winger into touch to avert a possible losing score.

This Saturday there is no local rugby action as all eyes will be on the Wales match in Rome against Italy. League action returns to Cwrt-y-vil on Saturday 16th February in a home match against unbeaten table-toppers Canton.