Doncaster Phoenix hold on for important win
Doncaster Phoenix showed the rustiness of a 4 week break as they hung on to defeat a strong Sheffield Medicals side.
As expected, the hosts provided a stern test of Phoenix’s promotion credentials as they enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in a close affair at their Norton home.
As has been their trademark throughout the season though, the Doncaster men dug in and ground out another victory to add to their list of nailbiting away victories – following similarly close encounters at Ripon, Selby, Yarnbury and Bradford Salem already this season.
The Doncaster men began the strongest of the sides, and after an early penalty was converted by fly-half Dan Storey a blind-side move from a scrum saw scrum-half Tim Elliot goose step his way through the defence and after a weaving 40 metre run he provided a neat out-the-back offload for winger Dan Lovell to stroll in at the corner.
From the restart the Medics began to make their mark on the game, with some tenacious play around the ruck area resulting in a string of penalties kicked to the corner. Despite some strong defence on their own line by Peacey’s men, the pressure eventually told and the Medics captain Fawdry went over by the posts for a converted try, 10 – 7.
Phoenix responded almost instantly, with another penalty converted by fly-half Storey. However, it was the Medics who finished the half the stronger of the sides. A dangerous break out wide was stopped by a trip from winger Dan Greenslade, who was deservedly sent to the sin-bin. Reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the half Phoenix restricted the hosts to single penalty to leave the half-time score at 13 – 10.
Restored to their full complement early in the second half Phoenix started brightly, with a series of penalties kicked to the corner. The Medics though have one of the best defensive records in the league, and they proved why as they repelled a series of driving mauls. The pressure eventually proved too much though, and following a yellow card for the home flanker the Phoenix driving maul managed to get over the line to allow number 8 Ryan Peacey to dot down for his 30th of the season, 18 – 10.
As they did in the first half, the hosts responded to the setback with a period of pressure – and it looked as though they would capitalise as a missed tackle saw their prop make a clean break for the line. However he chose to ignore his support to try and barrel over Phoenix’s ‘fat little’ full-back Craig Deakin – only to be sat back on his own ar*e. The chance was gone, and despite a successful penalty kick the Medics were unable to break down the stubborn Phoenix defence for the remainder of the game – giving the Doncaster men a hard fought 18 – 13 victory.
Next week Phoenix could clinch promotion to Yorkshire One as they entertain struggling Skipton at Castle Park.