Old Penarthians 15 Caerau (Ely) 29
12:10pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in Sport
OLD Penarthians returned to their Cwrt-y-vil headquarters at the weekend for only their second home outing of 2013 and seeking to improve on the promise in evidence just a week earlier by completing the double over Cardiff visitors who were making their league debut at St Marks Road.
In that October encounter, the Old Boys had overturned a 13-6 deficit to secure the fine 25-15 victory which has proven to be the last win secured by Lloyd Davey and his men as they have slipped inexorably into the bottom three of the Division 5 South East table.
Caerau, meanwhile, have displayed much better form to consolidate themselves in a comfortable mid-table position and must have been favourites to take the honours in this return fixture.
Home supporters and players were, however, encouraged by the spirit shown in last week's reverse at the hands of table-toppers Ynysowen although the hopes thus raised were tempered by the news that both Jonathan Crimp and Tony Kemp were committed to work duties whilst the club's most senior scrum halves in Simon Davies and Gareth Jones had opted for spectator roles with Cardiff City.
Whether or not the changes that followed had affected the team's morale is not clear but it was fact that the visitors looked the most likely side in the early exchanges, with both forwards and backs running with power and purpose as they sought to support eachother.
Matters were not helped when Noel Extragary was forced to leave the field after only ten minutes for attention to a cut. Danny Godfrey taking over as temporary replacement.
It seemed that the situation had worsened even further soon after when scrum-half Gareth Welford collapsed in total agony close to the ten-yard line, clutching his knee in a manner that suggested he would never play again.
Those fears, however, proved to be groundless for it took only a matter of seconds for the delicate touch of physiotherapist Ellie Murphy to work its magic and for "Monger" to be restored to even fuller fitness!
Meanwhile, Caerau continued to dominate whilst Penarthians did little to help their own cause by kicking away the limited possession that came their way. Indeed, one such clearance from Scott McCarthy was eagerly seized upon by the opposition and the defence was spread-eagled by the counter move that saw full back Colin Fulthorpe race clear for an excellent try that was not converted but opened the scoring in the 24th minute.
Immediately afterwards, the Old Boys suffered yet another blow when it was seen that Mark Sadler was in great difficulty from a nasty eye injury.
With the possibility of a fractured eye socket the initial diagnosis, even Ellie was unable to work a miracle and the influential centre left the field, with James Williams taking over.
The visitors should have extended their lead at this point but flank forward Lee Highgate. having made an excellent break, chose to ignore support on his right and the chance was lost.
Encouraged by this let off, Penarthians responded in kind, levelling the scores with an excellent try, albeit against the run of play.
Alun Haines did well to secure the loose ball close to halfway before Gareth Welford opened up to the left. Scott McCarthy and Lloyd Davey linked smooth- ly in midfield before the skipper put Charles Gore in space and the winger stormed away from the cover in his 30-yard dash to a cracking try. Liam Union could not convert.
Even better was to follow.
Now into time added, the visitors strove to recover the ascendancy. The ball was moved from left to right and returning as the defence became stretched to its limit. A handling error, however, proved fatal as. in a trice, defence was turned into attack.
Andrew Gill emerged from the depths of the 25 to find himself in space but with a 70-yard distance to cover. Instantly upping a gear, he threw back his head and set off with the whole of Caerau in his wake.
Cheered all the way by his mother, who must have achieved new world records in decibel ratings, the winger finally fell to the ground halfway out, justifiably exhausted by the effort of a truly sensational try.
Still the visitors sought to reply at the opposite end but the energetic Highgate lost possession in sight of the line, leaving Penarthians the simple task of playing out time to the break.
Sadly, a rush of blood saw Simon Barry lose his discipline at a ruck, causing the referee to issue a yellow card.
Dean Pratt took over from the absent Barry, with Lee Brennan coming on at prop as Noel Extragary was forced to the touchline to leave the side a man short in the back row.
This proved to be disastrous as Caerau won the ensuing scrum, allowing the energetic Highgate to take full advantage as, this time, he raced unchallenged to the line for the 47th minute try that was converted by hooker Chris Greenfield to put the side 12-10 clear at the break.
The second session began with Stuart Clarke succumbing to the effects of an earlier injury, and Danny Godfrey taking over, whilst Simon Barry's return from the bin saw Noel Extagaray make way for Joel De Claire.
The latter soon made his presence felt with some useful work at the ruck, whilst prop Dale Norris revealed excellent footballing skills with some sleight-of-hand distribution.
The visitors, however, were now growing in confidence and, despite losing their No 8 to the sin bin, began to take charge in every department.
In the ninth minute, outside half Liam Healey cruised through comfortably for a well taken try halfway out, with Greenfield adding the conversion.
Panic play then saw the Old Boys concede a lineout close to the corner and.
when play moved to centre stage, Greenfield extended the lead with a 35-yard penalty. Still maintaining the initiative, Caerau worked together in a manner missing from the Penarthian make-up and they were rewarded with the bonus point try that came on the half hour when good hands created the space for centre Jamie Sexton to touch down, with Greenfield again convert- ing.
There was. however, a final crumb of comfort for the Old Boys when, with Caerau down to 13 men as two men departed to the sin bin, the home pack produced a spirited effort and prop forward Dale Norris was rewarded for a awful afternoon's shift with the try at the corner that made the score 15-29.
This was a disappointing display from the Old Boys who appeared to be lacking in spirit and unity.
With Dean Kran defend ing well. Simon Barry making his presence felt, and Dale Norns always in the hunt, the front row made the biggest contribution to a pack that was strangely lacklustre.
Alun Haines did his best but both Tom Sidford and Mark Smart were quieter than usual as the side strug gled to compensate for the many changes that took place in the back row Behind the scrum.
Gareth Welford again did well in his emergency rote but the variety of his passes did little for the peace of mind of Scott McCarthy outside him.
Mark Sadler s influence at centre was sadly missed despite the efforts of Lloyd Davey and James Williams although both Andrew Gill and the outstanding Charles Gore did well.
Full back Liam Union, however, too often spoiled the effect of his excellent running by kicking possession away.
A mud-strewn second pitch at Cwrt was the scene of the second team game at home to strong Llandaff North visitors and with so many players failing to show, it was no surprise that the spirited efforts of those who did were not quite good enough to prevent the 24-10 defeat.
Rhys Loveless was the scorer of the Old Boys" try.
with Steve Thomas kicking the conversion and a penalty goal, whilst there were outstanding performances from babe in arms Alex Holder and great grandfather David Martin in a back row that was also well served by the slightly younger Paul Kemp Lock Damian Flynn was another to do well whilst Tom Parkinson produced another of his man of the match displays from the full back position