Phoenix squandered a hard won 10 point lead in the closing stages of this league encounter last Saturday. This was a desperately disappointing result for the Taplow side that had done so much to overcome a strong Stow side the previous week. Phoenix paid dearly for the not having a recognised kicker in the side, failing to convert any of their four tries or penalty goals. Hungerford also had trouble with the boot managing just one conversion at the very end of the match, which gave them the victory they probably just about deserved.
Phoenix played up the reasonably severe slope on the Hungerford ground in the first half. This enabled Hungerford to kick Phoenix back into their own 22 almost at will. From the kick-off, Hungerford pinned Phoenix to within 10 meters of their try line for much of the first quarter but Phoenix defended strongly and restricted them to just one try driven over by the Hungerford pack. The Phoenix scrummage was in command but alas their lineout failed to provide much useful ball throughout the game. Nevertheless, Phoenix battled away to produce their own chances against the hill and James Constable
drove off the base of a Phoenix Scrum
5 meters out and slipped the scoring pass to Iain Watkinson
for the touchdown. Phoenix prop forward Jamie Willis
scored for the second time in as many weeks driving over from short range to take Phoenix into a 5 point lead. Against the slope, this was a good achievement but Hungerford had the final say of the first half when they again kicked down the slope and eventually squeezed over in the corner to level the scores at the break
Phoenix replaced their hooker James Dean
with James Dixon
during the break. The Phoenix pack continued to dominate the scrums and with the slope now in their favour had the opportunity to kick Hungerford back down the slope. An option they chose not to adopt, preferring to use their forwards wherever possible. Edd Dibb
crashed over for a try to retake the lead for the visitors and a few minutes later James Richardson
at centre drove through the Hungerford defence to establish a 10 point lead for Phoenix. With just 10 minutes of the match remaining and the slope in their favour and control of the scrummage, Phoenix should have wrapped things up. But Hungerford had other ideas and kept battling away charging strongly into the Phoenix defence. Dave McMillan
replaced Luke Saunders
in the closing minutes. With victory in sight, Phoenix struggled to close the game out, failing to clear their lines even with the slope in their favour and Hungerford kept up the pressure eventually forcing over a forward try from close range to bring them to within 5 points of the Phoenix score. As the match moved deep into injury time, Phoenix failed to find touch to finish the game and as they moved the ball out an interception inside the Phoenix half gifted Hungerford a try beneath the posts to level the scores. The conversion gave Hungerford the victory that just a few minutes earlier had looked most unlikely. Next weekend Phoenix 1st XV entertain Gosford All Blacks 1st 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.