The teams could hardly be more different, Drifters unbeaten and top of the league against Phoenix still yet to win. Although Drifters clearly had the upper hand in much of the threequarter play, they were less able to cope with the conditions. Phoenix on the other hand took until half-time to realise that attritional rugby was their best option.
Drifters got things underway and were soon into the Phoenix 22 but fluffing their lines at centre gave Phoenix turnover ball and found themselves back inside their own 22 in seconds. Phoenix penned Drfiters inside their own half for the firsts 15 minutes but were unable to break through. However, the Phoenix scrummage was under enormous pressure and travelling backwards most of the time. With the inability to rely on a stable scrum, Phoenix no. 8 James Constable
was forced into some desperate pick-ups at the base and Drifters were able to secure a number of scrums against the head. Phoenix Scrum
-half Luke Saunders
was always sniping around the scrum and fed some useful ball to Roach at fly-half. Drifters who broke through in midfield to open their scoring wih a quarter of the match spent swiftly used one such scrum just outside the Phoenix 22. A clever cross-kick was cleanly gathered for Drifters’ second try. In between, Phoenix were struggling to gain control and were unable to make use of several penalties that were awarded for Drifters’ infringements. Thus Drifters piled on the pressure. A third Drifters try was scored down the right wing after generating the overlap and a fourth push-over try minutes later gave them a lead of 24 points at the break. Phoenix finished the half with their best period of the match upto that point with the forwards driving and recycling well inside the Drifters 22. Hooker James Dean
was held up over the Drifters line in the final move of the first half.
Phoenix made a couple of changes at half-time bringing on Paul Devlin
for the injured James Dean
and Alan Carey for Rob Innes
. The Phoenix Scrum
stiffened up a little but was still under pressure and Phoenix dedicated themselves to a more attritional approach. This served them well and they were able to reduce the amount of Drifter’s possession and ultimately therefore the amount of pressure on themselves. Richardson at centre made some useful breaks for Phoenix but most penetration came from a combination of Duncan Wardle
now promoted to second row due to the changes and James Constable
at no. 8. The Phoenix lineout began to gain good ball and the whole of the second half for the visitors was a much more solid performance. Drifters did score a push-over try from a lineout towards the end of the match but Phoenix responded with a 70 meter charge down the left win by no. 8 James Constable
who was stopped inches short. But the ball was moved across field and Phoenix drove for the line. James Richardson
eventually drove over for the well deserved Phoenix try.
Next weekend Phoenix entertain Stow on the Wold at Institute road in a rearranged league fixture, 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.