25 May 2018 / Club News

Sevens Report for 2018

The 69th running of the Old Penarthians Seven-a-Side tournament, sponsored by Worthington took place last Saturday at Cwrt-y-vil Playing Fields.  The lead up to the weekend was bright and sunny and the weather stayed fair for the tournament and it was played under blue skies with hardly a breath of wind.

The attraction of Seven-a-side rugby was also testament to the many hundreds of spectators who turned up to support an event that is an integral part of the Old Penarthians season.  The spectators were entertained throughout the afternoon with some excellent Sevens rugby played at great pace despite the tropical conditions.

The organisation of the day was unfortunately disrupted due to the late withdrawal of two teams from an already depleted line-up of 12 teams.  Four teams short from the optimum number of 16 teams on which the traditional knock-out competition is based.  This called for last minute alterations by tournament organiser David James to the pool-based tournament that was due to take place.  This meant that in Pool A there was only one fixture with Ponty Butchers progressing straight to the semi-final of the Main Competition and Canton progressing to the Plate.

Further bad news was the fact that the advertised women’s’ tournament could not take place because the teams that had indicated that they would play in the CJCH Solicitors sponsored event made themselves unavailable in the week leading up to the event.  This was a disappointment to the organisers but maybe the venture will be attempted again next year.

The reorganisation also led to some headaches in the control caravan for announcers Stuart Gunnarrsen and Jeff Norman with match scheduling not meeting the order of play.  This also caused confusion and a little frustration for the team managers but not many of the spectators were inconvenienced or perhaps even noticed the changes.

The changes certainly didn’t affect the band of volunteers manning the stalls and food outlets, nor the patrons enjoying the high-quality food and drink provided by Dave Chandler and Stuart Munro in the Hospitality Marquee.  A thank-you must also be extended to Rod Hill who was a major contributor to the organisation but could not participate on the day after suffering a broken leg on the last day of the season.

The tournament started in impressive style when Ponty Butchers defeated Canton by 50 points on the Main Pitch whilst Prostate Cymru were overcoming first time competitors, Penarth, over on Pitch 2 by 17 points to 5.  It was good to see Penarth in the tournament and that the side was based on players that have graduated from their recent Youth XVs.

The second match on the Main Pitch featured another debutant from Le Harve, a touring French team. They were somewhat outclassed by the 2017 winners, Voyagers, but they played with spirit in this game and for the rest of the afternoon.  What Le Harve may have lacked in Sevens know-how they certainly made up for with enthusiasm and if they are to return next season they would know that the matches are keenly contested and a Friday night out in Cardiff may not be the best preparation for the tournament.

Pool C matches featuring Old Penarthians and Ponty Butchers II and Preseli BaBaas and Glantaf Goats were the next matches on the two pitches and results went in favour of the hosts and Glantaf Goats. Pool B matches saw a bit of an upset when Prostate Cymru defeated Voyagers by 31 points to 17 but Penarth got their first win defeating Le Harve

This then brought Old Penarthians back onto the Main Pitch against one of the pre-event favourites in four-time winners and nine-time finalists, Glantaf Goats. The final scoreline of 29 points to 17 in favour of the hosts was therefore something of a surprise, but a very pleasant one. The team of Luke and Josh Crocker, Luke Dawes, Richard Pilcher, Josh and Jack Austin, Owen Lloyd, Rhys Jones, Spencer Robinson and Rhys Belmont all played important roles in this match and those that were to follow. 

They were ably managed throughout by Leon Andrews, who even had to put on kit for a brief period later in the tournament, and assistant Jon Patterson, who had no intention of playing.  It was also good to see the last two Old Penarthians first XV captains, Rhys Lakin and Jon Crimp, acting as water boys.  Perhaps they will consider this to be their future careers when they eventually stop playing.

The final matches in Pool B saw Prostate Cymru go through to the knock out stages unbeaten after defeating Le Harve and then Voyagers defeating Penarth. The Voyagers success meaning that they progressed to the Main competition as the best Pool runners-up and Penarth moving forward to the Plate Competition as the third best placed team.  This message was not clear immediately and some of the Penarth players had to be recalled from the hospitality tent in time for the next round.

Pool C was a much tighter affair when Preseli BaBaas beat Old Penarthians and Glantaf Goats defeated Ponty Butchers II. This meant that three of the teams each had records of 2 wins and 1 loss with Ponty Butchers II the team to miss out.  In accordance with the competition rules it meant that the team who had scored the most tries would progress as Pool winners and it turned out that Old Penarthians had scored 14 tries, Preseli 13 and Glantaf 10.  Old Penarthians therefore entered the semi-final of the Cup competition, whilst Preseli and Glantaf went forward into the Plate competition where they would play each other again.

Canton playing against Penarth in the first of the Plate semi-finals was the next match on the Main pitch and it was the local team who were to prevail by 31 points to 14.  The other semi-final was a much tighter affair with Preseli BaBaas just overcoming Glantaf Goats in a thrilling 31 points to 24 victory and thereby overturning the result of the first encounter earlier in the day

Despite their unbeaten run in the competition, Prostate Cymru were overrun in the first semi-final of the Cup competition by the fresh legs of the Ponty Butcher team, who had a long wait from the first match of the day, by 40 points to 7. 

A passionate crowd then welcomed home town favourites onto the pitch for a match against four-time finalists, Voyagers and it was Old Penarthians who struck the first two blows to take a 14 point lead through two Luke Dawes tries.  Voyagers struck back to close the score to 14 -7.  Penarthians kept up the pressure and Richard Pilcher scored an important try just after half time to make the score 21 -7.  Unfortunately, an injury to Josh Crocker meant he had to leave the field. Scores were then traded but eventually the Old Pens held out for a 28 - 21 point win.

Before the finals there was an excellent 7s match at U14 level between the Old Penarthians and Penarth RFC.  Old Pens may have won the match, but rugby was the winner when you can see the enjoyment of the participants and spectators watching the players of the future.  This was also true in the tag exhibition matches played before the competition started between age group sides from the Old Pens M&J section.  The coaches and parents of the players should be proud of the skill levels on show and it hopefully bodes well for the future.

The first final to be contested was for the Golden Jubilee Plate and Preseli BaBaas ran out the winners over a Penarth team who never stopped trying by 38 points to 17, with winger Alun Evans scoring two tries from within his own half.

The final of the Roy Churchill Trophy was something of a one-sided event with Ponty Butches defeating Old Penarthians by 49 points to 12.  It was not the fairy-tale ending that the local crowd may have wanted but Ponty Butchers were worthy winners.  The team is one that competes regularly on the ‘sevens circuit’ and the week before they had only just lost in the final of the Kinsale Sevens in Ireland to the Scottish RFU development squad.  Next week they travel to Bournemouth and they also have tournaments planned for Dubai and Bermuda.

There was therefore no disgrace in losing in the final, that was the team’s first final of the Main Competition since 2004 when they had lost to Old Breconians.

After the match the presentations were made to the winning and losing finalists of the Plate and the Roy Churchill Trophy by former London Welsh, Wales and British & Irish Lions legend, John Taylor.  John also presented the Man of the tournament trophy to Kane Teear-Bourge of Ponty Butchers

Tournament Results

Group A:          Ponty Butchers 55, Canton 5.

Group B.          Voyagers 54, Le Harve 7; Prostrate Cymru 17, Penarth 5; Voyagers 17, Prostate Cymru 31; Penarth 24, Le Harve 0; Le Harve 5, Prostate Cymru 42; Voyagers 28, Penarth 10.

Group C.          Preseli BaBaas 19, Glantaf Goats 22; Old Penarthians 32, Ponty Butchers II 12; Old Penarthians 29, Glantaf Goats 17; Ponty Butchers II 12, Preseli BaBaas 24; Old Penarthians 19, Preseli BaBaas 36; Ponty Butchers II 7, Glantaf Goats 19.

Plate Semi-finals:        Canton 14, Penarth 31; Preseli BaBaas 31 Glantaf Goats 24.

Plate Final:      Penarth 17, Preseli BaBaas 38.

Cup Semi-finals           Ponty Butchers 40, Prostate Cancer 7; Old Penarthians 28, Voyagers 21.

Cup Final         Ponty Butchers 49, Old Penarthians 12;

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