Phoenix 10 pts Bicester 63 pts
Phoenix entertained Bicester, who currently lie fourth in the Bucks Berks and Oxon Premier league last Saturday at Institute road. This was always going to be a severe test for the Taplow side who continue to suffer from injury problems to some key players. Bicester lost no time at all in making Phoenix pay for any mistakes and capitalised on their strength in the loose. From a scrummage close to the Phoenix line, Bicester moved the ball swiftly and crossed for their opening try after just 2 minutes. The conversion took the visitors into an early 7-point lead. Phoenix regained their composure and drove strongly into opposition territory but Bicester were strong in the loose and restricted any continuity of possession for Phoenix. Bicester were soon attacking the Phoenix line after a break down the centre was held just short of the line but a Phoenix were penalised and Bicester took their lead up to 10 points with a goal. Again Phoenix recovered into the Bicester 22 and this time were awarded a penalty and Ballantyne’s kick went over the upright and was disallowed. But another penalty awarded to Phoenix as Bicester stepped offside a few minutes later was slotted by Ballantyne to open the scoring for Phoenix. Phoenix defended the 7-point deficit for a short while but on the half hour Bicester slotted a second penalty to extend their lead. Phoenix looked nervy whilst in possession but Richardson and McMillan at centre drove strongly into the Bicester defence but at the breakdown, Bicester dominated proceedings and gained turnover ball. In spite of some heroic Watkinson tackling, Phoenix were clearly struggling to cope with the pace of Bicester. However, the Phoenix lineout was dominant where Tim Morgan
gathered much useful ball and enabled Watkinson, relishing his transfer to scrumhalf to feed his line but Bicester had the better in the scrummages and crucially the loose where the Phoenix pack struggled to cope with the driving of the Bicester outfit. In open play Bicester linked and ran well. An error by the Bicester fly half oddly set up another try for his side. The fumbled ball went backwards and was scooped up and chipped through for a try beneath the posts. Bicester then put the result beyond doubt with two more tries, taking a 32-point lead into the break.
Phoenix rang the changes at halftime, bringing on Neil Wyncombe at second row and James Dixon
at flanker. This added some much needed stability to the Phoenix set scrum. Phoenix responded during the early stages of the second half and took the game to Bicester, forcing them into strong defence.
Constable then left the field with an injury, which enabled Phoenix to bring the powerful John Winters
into the game at centre. Winters made some useful forceful drives down the centre of the field and Phoenix began to move forward more strongly. The Phoenix scrummage stabilised and with their lineout running well, Phoenix worked the ball into the Bicester 22 with a combination of drives and forced a defensive touch kick from the visitors. Watkinson moved quick ball from the lineout swiftly to Ballantyne who looped with Winters and sent James Richardson
racing for the line to raise much cheer from the home crowd. Ballantyne converted to take Phoenix to 10 points. Bicester ran in a couple more tries to emphasise their superiority but Phoenix finished the game camped on the Bicester line and were unlucky not to score a second try as the Phoenix pack drove for the line. A Bicester penalty as Phoenix strayed offside brought the match to a close. Next weekend Phoenix entertain Alchester 2nd XV at Institute road, kick-off 2.15 p.m. Everybody is welcome. Phoenix train every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7.00 p.m. at their grounds in Institute road Taplow see www.phoenixrfc.com for further information.
Phoenix: E Dibb, C Harrison, J Willis, A Bird, N Coltman, R Gill, T Morgan, J Constable, I Watkinson, W Ballantyne, J Richardson, A McMillan, M Lloyd, C Clarke, K Roach.
Subs: J Dixon, N Wyncombe, J Winters.