Phoenix Well Beaten
'In like a lion'
Full Time 67-17
Half Time 22-12
Scorers – Brooke (T – 4 Mins); Nun (T -10 mins) Brooke (C-10mins) Smith (T-78 Mins)
First game of the season pretty much left off where it did last season with a spirited effort from Phoenix young guns, but in the end no match the for Salop big gins who put their foot on the gas from the 3 min mark and never really looked back.
It was however Phoenix who showed all the early promise and with tenacious tackling and up fast line speed hit, I don’t think the hosts knew exactly what hit them. This was epitomised when Brooke on the 4 minute collected a clearance ball 40 metres out and chose the gap between the centres and raced through to touch down.
Again Phoenix continued in the same vein with Leipers non-stop tackling and Will Taylor making breaks on around the loose that Phoenix maintained their vim and certainly surpsied the Shropshire outfit. The tenacity was further rewarded on 12 mins after Salop mounted an attack midfield which was turned over and allowed debutant Nun to race 40 meteres and touch down under the posts, Brooke adding the conversion.
It seemed that the visitors tenacity was recognised when Salop were awarded a penalty and opted to kick the points rather than mount an attack.
It was then after the thirty minute mark that the tides turned with the coach suitably chastising his side the Fijian centre took an unstoppable crash ball and went under the posts unopposed.
This spurred the home side further when they progressed to the corner and what to everyone else looked a knock on was adjudged to have gone backwards before going forwards to allow Salop to touch down in the corner.
This referee misjudgement seemed to rove the catalyst in the Phoenix decline and they conceded another try on the whistle 20-12 at the break.
The second half was one way traffic with Salop now completely dominant they added a further six tries with no reply and looked early title contenders.
To be fair Captain Botts did endeavour to keep morale and the pursuit now was a 4 T bonus point and on 78 mins Phoenix’s stubbornness and enthusium was reward with a Will Smith try. However it was Salop who round off the day with the 10th try right on the death.
In summary , a mirror image of last season’s encounter however if Phoenix can elongate their first thirty minutes then a home victory to Nunueaton should be a realistic aspiration.