Phoenix relinquished a narrow first half lead to finish just 5 points behind local rivals Lttlemore last weekend at Institute Road, earning a vital bonus league point. The Phoenix pack was a very light weight affair with the absence of Dibb, Wyncombe and Wardle but benefited from the mobility of Dixon and Coltman.
Phoenix got off to a bright start and a penalty was slotted into the corner to set up the Phoenix attack within 2 minutes. But the drive through by Constable resulted in a penalty for the visitors to relieve the pressure. But Littlemore were soon under more pressure as Phoenix recycled the ball well and fly-half Coomber linked well with fullback Townsend but Littlemore tackled strongly to prevent any Phoenix penetration. A drive down the centre of the field by Adam McMillan
hurried the Littlemore defence and he was unlucky not to get through. But on 15 minutes, Phoenix deservedly took the lead when Coomber broke through and fed Richardson for a score in the corner. Phoenix had the upper hand at this stage of the match and Constable was driving strongly. Phoenix elected to go for the corner from a penalty inside the Littlemore 22 which came to nought, which they repeated a few moments later. As the half came to a close Littlmore got back into the game and managed to slot one of their three penalty goal opportunities to bring them to within 2 points of Phoenix at the break.
Phoenix brought on Ryan Coborough at the break for the injured Adam McMillan
and it was not long before Phoenix hooker James Dean
retired to be replaced by Alan Bird
. The Littlemore pack began to play to their strengths which were mainly in the pack and continuously drove into Phoenix and began to recycle well. After a short period of pressure on the Phoenix line, Littlemore drove over to take the lead and extended their lead by 7 more points 5 minutes later with an almost identical try but in the righthand corner as opposed to the left giving themselves the more comfortable lead of 10 points as the match entered its final quarter. Phoenix came back strongly and forced Littlemore into some desperate defending as Constable, Townsend, Coomber and Richardson all broke clear on different occasions but failed to connect with their support. A penalty inside the Littlemore 22 was quickly taken by Phoenix and Constable found his way over to gather a bonus point for Phoenix and the possibility of victory being just 5 points adrift for the final 10 minutes. More Phoenix penalties inside the Littlemore 22 were despatched into the corner which might have put more pressure on Littlemore had Phoenix gone for goal and scored. However, in spite of some forceful attacking moves by Phoenix, Littlemore were in no mood to let their lead slip and kept Phoenix out to take the match by 15 points to 10.
Phoenix travel to Princes Risborough for the crucial final game of the season on Saturday 14th April. 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: C Manning, J Dean, J Willis, J Dixon, N Coltman, I Watkinson, T Morgan, J Constable, K Roach, B Coomber, J Richardson, A McMillan, M Lloyd, R Innes, J Townsend.
Subs: A Bird, R Coborough, J Dainty.