Saturday 3rd September 2016
Last Saturday saw the start of the new rugby season at Cwrt-y-vil and Old Penarthians welcomed both Cefn Coed and the remnants of hurricane Gaston. It was the first match for newly promoted Old Penarthians against opposition that ended mid-table in Division 3 East Central (B) last season.
The game would therefore be something of a gauge as to the strength of the division and how Old Pens may perform after the highs achieved last season. In the end the team acquitted themselves well against a lively opposition that had forward strength but little presence in the three-quarters. On a drier day the result may have been different but the prevailing winds and rains did nothing to assist the adventure that the home team wished to bring to the game. The final score was 13 points to 6 in favour of the visitors.
After the match coaches Simon Hurley and Anthony Davies considered that it was an opportunity missed and there was not enough cohesion in the side that was playing together for the first time. The majority of the team names were the same as last season but under new captain Jonathan Crimp the success of last year has attracted some new players.
Therefore, introduced to the starting line-up were flankers Kaid Hassan and Matt Sutton, full back Jason Ahmed, and hooker Connor Kavanagh. Nathan Facey also made his debut as a replacement full back in the second half.
The match itself, with the ball sponsored by Mila de Claire, was a stop-start affair with technical infringements at the scrummage and handling errors due to the conditions the prominent factors. The scrums were particularly frustrating and whilst the front row of Sam Hall, Gary Bishop and Kavanagh were being lectured the ball was not in play. The second row partnership of Stuart Gunnarsson, returning from South Africa, and Tom Sidford, returning from title winning Penarth Cricket Club, were both strong in defence and carried the ball into contact.
The back row of Joel de Claire, Sutton and Hassan foraged well throughout and were also prominent in support of the three-quarters when they were able to show their paces. Gareth Clancy at scrum half used the ‘box kick’ to good effect in the first half but the service to outside half Crimp was affected by the wind.
Rhys Lakin and Mark Sadler were effective runners in the centre when given the opportunity and along with winger Chad Wilson made most carry yards in the afternoon. It was however not really a day for three-quarters and wingers in particular so Fearghas Gough had little influence on the game.
The Old Penarthians points were scored from two penalty kicks by Crimp, one in each half but the telling score, after a half time scoreline of 3 -3, came midway through the second period when the Cefn Coed flanker, Ross Sullivan, broke away from the side of a ruck on the 22m line to score under the posts for a try converted by Rhys Bow, who also kicked two penalties.
Penarthians did introduce substitutes Luke Crockett, playing his first competitive senior game at prop, Chris Cobbold, Matt Allen and Facey but there was little time for them to make an impact other than to add their weight to a strong defensive stand on the goal line in the last five minutes of the match when Cefn Coed launched their only sustained period of pressure.
On the adjoining pitch at Cwrt-y-vil the second XV hosted the newly formed Sully View (an amalgamation of Sully Sports and Barry Seaview) and ran out winners by 43 points to nil, scoring six tries in the process. The team also benefited from some new players which included John Patterson, Nick Boudier and George Kynaston and together with club stalwarts like Mark Smart, Lee Brennan, James Williams, Steve Thomas and Paul Kemp it ensured that there was a winning start to their Cardiff & District First Division campaign.
Next Saturday the first team are again playing at home in a league game against Wattstown whilst the second XV visit neighbours Barry at the Reservoir Field. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm.
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