Old Penarthians v Penarth Match Report
Monday 27th December 2016
On Boxing Day, Old Penarthians played host to Penarth RFC in the annual festive fixture between these neighbouring clubs. The warm dry weather brought a bumper crowd to Cwrt-y-vil and they were not disappointed with the rugby played by either team. The match was evenly contested for seventy minutes but Penarth proved the more determined in the last ten minutes scoring two late tries and taking the local bragging rights by 24 points to 7.
It was in fact the Penarth team who had started the stronger and they dominated the early stages with a strong scrum and some incisive threequarter movements. And it was a run out of defence by Penarth from a wayward kick ahead that saw Tom Smith break clear of Chris Poole and Fearghas Gough to score a try, which went unconverted.
This action seemed to wake up the Old Pens and the next fifteen minutes were evenly contested. The line out was functioning well after an initial rustiness from hooker Rhys Blake, happily returning to action after a neck injury. He regularly found Jack Margetson and Joel deClaire and it ensured possession to Gareth Clancy to get the backline moving. Tom Sidford and Callum Wingren were willing support runners who made the hard yards and they received good support from Matt Sutton and Kaid Hassan.
From one of the forward efforts Penarth conceded a penalty and Jonathan Crimp kicked to the corner. From the lineout ten metres from the tryline Penarth again infringed and Crimp came forward to again kick for touch. Instead he took a quick penalty and passed inside to Clancy. He then threw a twenty yard pass wide to the other side of the pitch into the hands of fullback Gough who scored a well-executed try. Crimp converted and Old Penarthians led 7 – 5.
Penarthians continued to attack, and Rhys Lakin and Jon Patterson both broke the defence to be brought down by the Penarth cover. Poole also had attacking runs and on one occasion nearly released winger Mike Nash.
With three minutes of the half remaining and Old Pens attacking came one of the crucial moments of the game when Lakin spotted Nash unmarked on the left touchline and threw what would have been a try scoring pass. Unfortunately he had not allowed for 6’3” fullback Nathan Smith who intercepted the ball above his head and ran in from 75m to score under the posts. Smith converted and Penarth led 12 – 7 instead of possibly being in arrears by 14 points to 5
Coaches Anthony Davies and Simon Hurley gave the team a moral boosting talk at half time and the Penarthians forwards carried the contest to Penarth for fifteen minutes. Much of the time was spent in the opposition 22 but despite several attempts at rolling mauls led by deClaire, Sam Hall, Hassan and Wingren the Penarth defence tackled all that was thrown at them.
Penarthians introduced replacements Luke Crockett, Rob Rees and Chris Cobbold to freshen up the efforts and although Crimp had a missed penalty opportunity, the pressure could not be turned into points, even when Penarth were reduced to 14 players for a yellow card offence.
In fact when Penarth were back to full numbers they seemed refreshed and Arran Ellis and Alex Thau in particular led the fight back and Penarth secured more possession and territory. On 35 minutes Penarth exploited sloppiness in the Penarthians handing and with a fly hack ahead Owen Rees scored an unconverted try.
From the kick-off Penarth again attacked through some poor tackling and with the upper-hand scored the final points of the game through a Sam Laity try and Nathan Smith conversion for a 24 – 7 victory
The game was played in a good spirit and well refereed by Barry Gregory and was a fitting tribute to the memory of Richard Thomas whose name is engraved on the trophy that was awarded to winning Penarth captain Tom Luck by Rhys Thomas at the after match ceremony.
It was also good to note the majority of the players in both teams have been schooled in Penarth and it can only be good for the town that rugby still forms part of a competitivesporting scene despite the many alternative distractions available.
Next Saturday sees Old Penarthians first and second XVs return to league action in games at home to Penygraig and away to Canton respectively. Both games scheduled to kick off at 2.30pm.
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