Old Penarthians v Canton Match Report
Saturday 8th April 2017
Last Saturday Old Penarthians hosted Canton RFC in a WRU National League 3 East Central (B) fixture in their last home game of the 2016/17 season. Whilst a good crowd was in attendance, no doubt encouraged by the fine weather it was very different to the last home fixture of a year ago when Penarthians had secured the league title.
Penarthians were hoping to reverse the season's earlier fixture on the unpopular 3G pitch with a win however it would be the visitors who would once again emerge victorious by 38 points to 31.
The early encounters were scrappy with neither side able to retain possession for any length of time despite almost perfect playing conditions. A rejuvenated front row fielded a returning David Hosking making his first start since October, along side Hooker Rhys Blake and Loose-head Sam Hall. Luke Crockett moved from the front row into the blindside position and he was able to make several strong carries in the initial exchanges, aided by pack-leader Joel de Claire.
Ageing scrum-half Gareth Clancy returning from a "Scotland Trip" marshalled the forwards and was given quality scrum service for most of the game. With the regular first team captain in Spain, Aussie wonder Scott McCarthy returned to the outside-half position and proved a strong link throughout between Clancy and match day skipper Rhys Lakin.
Several tackles from Tony Kemp resulted in a turnover that put flanker Matthew Sutton on a run. The ball transferred to Hall via Clancy and on to Lakin however a forward pass handed possession back to the visitors. Many of the errors were the result of poor decision making under pressure - something which coaches Simon Hurley and Anthony Davies need the players to work on by attending training.
The game's opening score came from the ball rolling out the side of the scrum allowing the Canton scrum half to hack the ball into Penarthians territory. A scrambled defence prevented a try but did result in a penalty which Canton duly converted. 0-3.
From the restart Penarthians were able to secure ball in Canton half through de Claire. Clancy offloaded to Sutton, drawing defenders before he offloaded to a storming Lakin who broke two tackles to offload to a hard running de Claire, however at the subsequent ruck the referee adjudged a forward pass and a promising attack came to nought. At the subsequent scrum the pack had the measure of Canton and were awarded a penalty. Facey stepped up to take from just outside the Canton 22 and close to the left touchline but unfortunately his kick went wide.
The 22 dropout was claimed by Liam Bevan playing his first game in several years who made fifteen metres. An exchange of penalties ended with McCarthy launching a huge kick to secure a lineout for the home team on the visitors 5 metre line.
A much improved throw from Blake allowed de Claire to claim and setup a driving maul. Transferring the ball back to Blake, the pack were able to drive over for the game's opening try. The conversion was missed. 5-3.
Poor concentration from the restart allowed Canton to gain possession. Hall and de Claire were called upon once again to defend and with Canton seemingly given free reign at the breakdown they were able to take advantage of an over-pursuing defence that allowed a switch pass back inside for the 14 to score under the posts and duly converted. 5-10.
From the restart Old Penarthians began to exert some territorial pressure and a pin point kick into the 22 of Canton by McCarthy flummoxed Canton fullback and wing, bouncing kindly for a hard chasing Union who gathered the ball and carried two players over the try line to tie the scores. Union converted his own try 12-10.
The next score was in favour of the home team. A wayward throw from Blake was knocked back by Canton, taking everyone but Mark Glover by surprise as he marauded into the Canton 22. A Canton penalty for not releasing gave Blake a second attempt at the lineout and this time he elected for a straight throw locating an airborne de Claire and was on hand once again at the back of a driving maul to score his second try. The conversion was missed, with half-time score Old Penarthians 17 Canton 10.
The Old Boys started the second half in good spirits however the game would turn on one passage of play. From a Canton scrum on half way their backs were able to engineer an overlap for what seemed to be an easy try. However the final pass travelled several feet forward seen by everyone but the man with the whistle allowing Canton to score the easiest of tries and cause Penarthians heads to drop. A simple conversion tied the scores at 17.
With player's minds still reflecting on the forward pass and a missed knock on from the Canton 9 at the base of the ruck it was Canton who would score another try and conversion for a 24-17 lead.
With possession changing several times due to poor handling from both sides it was Facey who gained a penalty when he was impeded by two Canton players as he chased his chip kick. McCarthy boomed another kick into touch to gain a lineout on the Canton ten. Another driving lineout and break from Blake from the back almost resulted in a try but the Canton defence held firm. Some solid ruck work from Hosking allowed Clancy to launch Sutton at the try line who neatly offloaded to Lakin. Once again the skipper broke the chain and with the try line begging Union uncharacteristically elected to pass to Allcock. An alert Canton wing intercepted on his own five metre line and went the length of the pitch to give Canton a two try advantage at 31-17.
From the restart the focus had returned and some good interplay between Facey and Lakin set Union free on a run which resulted in another penalty against the visitors. There followed a period in play in which Canton were penalised three times for what could only be called cynical play yet no sanction was given to the offenders. From another driving lineout Blake was able to claim his hat-rick. Union added the conversion 31-24.
Another lapse in concentration would allow Canton to seal the game. From a maul at the Old Pens 10 Clancy hoisted a box kick which unfortunately went straight up rather than forwards. The subsequent inactivity from any home player allowed Canton to claim the ball and jog under the posts. The conversion once again gave a Canton a two try advantage. 38-24.
The remaining minutes were all Old Penarthians but it was too little too late to claim a victory. A creative chip from Union unlocked the Canton defence allowing Allcock to gather, receiving a high tackle for his troubles.
Despite some slick play from the quick tap between McCarthy, Lakin and Facey the final pass was over run by sub Alex Lewis and landed in touch. With time running out Lewis carried strongly and was supported at the ensuing ruck by Matt Stingl. The next phase allowed Bevan to break through and for another penalty to be awarded with the referee reducing Canton to 14 men.
From the tap restart decoy runs from Sutton, Simon Barry and Hall confused the defence and allowed Lakin to make ground. He winged a pass to a galloping Facey who was able to score. It fell to Liam Union to make the conversion fifteen metres in from touch which he duly did to secure a losing bonus point in addition to their try bonus. Final score Old Penarthians 31 - Canton 38.
Next week the 1st XV travel to promoted Penygraig and the 2nd XV are away to Llanishen. Both games kick off at 2.30pm.
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