Old Penarthians v Tonyrefail Match Report
Saturday 1st April 2017
Last Saturday Old Penarthians played host to Tonyrefail in their Division 3 East Central (B) fixture of the WRU National Leagues. At the start of the match Tonyrefail were three points and one place higher in the league table and therefore a close contest was anticipated.
And it was to prove the case with the result in the balance until the last couple of minutes but it was to be an April Fools’ Day with a happy ending and a victory to the Old Penarthians be 18 points to 13.
The victory was based on an all-round team performance which typified the season. There were moments of good structured play, moments of individual flair but these were interspersed with moments of poor decision making and a sense of desperation as players tried too hard to turn advantages into points.
Ultimately there was a confidence in the side that made them hold on for a win that may have been instigated in a mid-week training session with John Bruno which featured ‘positive minds’ psychology. The coaches, Simon Hurley and Anthony Davies, will be hoping for another positive performance next week in the home fixture against Canton.
Old Penarthians started the game with two debutants in Daniel Waldron on permit from CIACS and a scrum half, Albert Miles, who used his sat-nav to find the pitch from his university halls of residence. He also maintained his sense of direction on the pitch and allied with a strong pass it ensured a steady supply of ball to the three-quarters.
The game finished with Mark Glover appearing as a substitute at a time when he should have been long-retired but in so doing he achieved a personal milestone of 200 1st XV appearances if Roy Churchill’s record keeping and wicked sense of humour is to be believed.
The match had one other unusual feature when a head injury to flanker Chris Cobbold forced the players and spectators to vacate the first XV pitch in favour of the smaller second team pitch whilst Cobbold awaited the emergency services in the safe hands of John Slack. Fortunately, the diagnosis was not as serious as first thought and a concussion was in some way a relief to his concerned family who were watching.
The match had started strongly for Old Penarthians and after a line out was stolen by Matt Sutton, the forwards drove together with Joel de Claire to the fore. Miles then released the ball to Jon Crimp who passed to Rhys Lakin in mid-field. The pass to Liam Union gave the centre the opportunity to take the ball deep into the Tonyrefail twenty-two where he was tackled. The forwards were in support and a quick pass from Miles sent John Patterson in for the try. Crimp converted from wide out and after 8 minutes Old Pens led by 7 – 0.
In response, the Tonyrefail forwards were the main attacking weapon and they dominated the next series of plays at scrum and rucks. The home defence was strong with Luke Crockett and Tom Sidford making numerous tackles but after standing firm at two five metre scrums the Tonyrefail forwards released the ball to their centre who crossed under the posts for a converted try.
A moment of indiscretion by Cobbold resulted in a yellow card and a penalty kick after 27 minutes and Old Pens were down by three points. Further defiant defence on the tryline saw Tonyrefail repelled with Lakin stealing the ball at a ruck and earning a penalty.
Several attacks by Mike Nash, Nathan Facey and Patterson were brought up short in the last phases of the half but with the wind advantage in the second period there was a confidence that the heavier tiring Tonyrefail pack could be overcome.
The second half started with a catch by Sidford who passed on to de Claire. Crockett and Sutton carried the ball further up-field and they passed onto Lakin. With the move now into opposition territory Facey was given the opportunity to run but he chose to pass and unfortunately the ball went forward and a great opportunity was lost.
Ten minutes later Facey made amends with a long touch finder kick from a penalty. The line out was won on the 22m line by de Claire from a Reggie Blake throw in and the forwards created a rolling maul that was controlled all the way to the line for a Cobbold try. The kick was missed but Penarthians led.
And the 12 -10 score remained until the injury to Cobbold and the change of pitch. Soon after Crimp kicked a penalty but Tonyrefail responded and the lead was still only two points with 8 minutes to play. The wind had seemed to subside but Penarthians dominated the territory in those last few minutes and were awarded another penalty which Crimp kicked from 35m for a final score of 18 -13 and a much-needed morale boosting victory.
Next week sees Old Penarthians 1st XV play at home again, this time against Canton with the 2nd XV also at home to Llandaff. Both games are due to kick off at 2.30pm.
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