Phoenix 25 pts Stow on the Wold 24 pts
Phoenix worked hard to achieve this victory. A heavy loss away to Stow earlier in the season had prepared them for the task ahead ad they clearly befitted from a period of attritional rugby at Drifters the previous week. Things became more focussed for Phoenix when, after 15 minutes they were 12 points down and looking at another afternoon of continual defence and suffering. This was not to be however as Phoenix gathered their resources and overcame a strong Stow effort, often threatening the Stow line. The fact that Phoenix scraped through owes much to the team’s renewed inner strength brought about from more concentrated training.
Stow got things underway and were soon into Phoenix territory. A set scrum and recycled ball was all that the visitors needed to expose Phoenix and scored a try half-way out on the right and the conversion was good. Minutes later and Stow had extended their lead to 12 points with a similar move. Much more was needed from Phoenix if they were to avoid a repeat of the 60 point drubbing suffered at Stow earlier in the season. But Phoenix had seen little of the ball upto this point and a clever chip through took them to within 5 meters of the Stow line. Luke Saunders at scrum-half for Phoenix was dragged down a meter short of the Stow line and Constable at no. 8 was menacing. Phoenix had their chances and Dibb was held over the line and Stow seemed to go into panic mode and several continuous infringements resulted in a penalty try to Phoenix which was duly converted and reduced the deficit to just 5 points with just a quarter of the match spent. The Phoenix set piece was a reasonably stable affair with Dibb restored to tight-head and Willis at loose head. In addition, Constable inked well with Luke Saunders at scrum-half to provide useful ball for his three-quarter line. The Phoenix pack began to find some rhythm and recycled the ball well when trouble approached. Prop forward Jamie Willis drove well and was backed up by second row Alex Jones. Iain Watkinson was on top of the Stow loose nearly all of the time that prevented them making much use of their possession. As the half moved on, the ease with which Stow had struck for their first two scored became a distant memory as the Phoenix pack starved their opponents of possession. Nevertheless some desperate Phoenix defence was required to keep Stow out. A missed penalty by the visitors ensured Phoenix went into the break just 5 points adrift.
Within 5 minutes of the restart, Phoenix had turned over the Stow ball and began to drive towards their line. The Phoenix pack drove on and on and eventually prop forward Jamie Willis crossed for the levelling score. Phoenix came more into the match and after several forward drives, the ball was flipped back for a dropped goal attempt which bounced back off the upright and James Richardson pounced to cross pretty much beneath the posts. The conversion was a formality and Phoenix found themselves in the lead by 19 points to 12 with 25 minutes remaining. This was not the script that Stow had written and they became increasingly flustered as their attacks through their three-quarters were thwarted by Bradley Coomber and a strong Phoenix defence. A dropped goal by Roach gave Phoenix a little breathing space as the match entered the final 10 minutes. But Stow were still threatening when the ball went wide although the Phoenix centre paring of James Richardson and Bradley Coomber were capable the chance remained. Alex Jones left the field with an injury and was replaced by Ryan Coborough. Stow continued with their match plan to move the ball wide and eventually they broke through however and scored almost beneath the posts for a score that should have drawn them level but the kick went wide and Phoenix retained a slender 2 point lead into the final 15 minutes. Mike Lloyd for Phoenix was dragged down inches short of the line as Phoenix threw everything at Stow. As the match entered its closing stages, Phoenix failed to control the Stow restart and as a result put themselves under considerable pressure. A Stow penalty was slotted into the corner to increase the pressure on Phoenix. Another kickable penalty for Stow was run which eventually provided dividends as Stow crossed wide out on the left and brought the touchdown beneath the posts with 3 minutes of the match left and gave them a 2 point lead.
Phoenix attacked inside the Stow 22 and forced a Stow lineout. Stow decided to move the ball wide and paid the penalty as they knocked on and their scrummage under the pressure of prop Edd Dibb were penalised and Phoenix gladly accepted the penalty goal and the match. Next weekend Phoenix 2nd XV entertain Gosford All Blacks 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, J Dean, J Willis, N Wyncombe, A Jones, I Watkinson, J Dixon, J Constable, L Saunders, K Roach, J Richardson, B Coomber, M Lloyd, T Morgan, R Innes.
Subs: N Coltman, R Coborough, C Harrison.