Tadley Bandits 43 v Phoenix II 7
The Bandits entertained old rivals Phoenix and played their best rugby of the season so far.
As is the norm for the Bandits these days it was a much changed team from the last outing. 3 Players made debuts- Chris & Connor who were new to the game coming from the unusual route of going Training, not surprisingly none of the Bandits had meet them before and they looked cannily similar so there was lots of mixing them up all day. The other debutant was Jo who had seen a TRFC flyer in the co-op in Theale, well done who placed that and keep up the good work. We also had 5 players making only there 2nd appearance of the season, backs – Andy Webster, Lea Hampson , Leo & Gareth and forward George.
With all these changes there was a worry it would be a disjointed effort but the Bandits soon got into their stride after an even start, on Tadleys 1st visit to the oppositon 22 Fly half Andy W & full back PD switched play to the blindside to take advantage of the overlap with Skipper Bosh cleverly lurking on the wing, just as the ball went down the line and Bosh was about to unleash the rarely seen burst of pace up popped winger Jack Crump to take the ball and go over for the try. Webster missed the conversion.
The rest of the 1st quarter stayed scoreless but a couple of highlights were a great run from newbie Chris which almost saw him score and Jo showing his highland dancing skills with an epic jig/hitch kick before setting of on one of several powerful bursts. Tadley made a few changes Jo finding the spring weather in Berkshire a bit warmer than his native Aberdeen and having a well-earned break, Mike J replacing and the hard working Chris & George making way for Stu and Jordon. The changes soon payed dividends the lively Bandit backline looked sharp all day and when centre Lea H made a break he off loaded to Jordon for a score, Andy converted.
Another try soon followed from a ruck in the Phoenix 22, with Bosh again lurking on the wing with a big overlap, the play went left where it was 2 v 2 but Rick O continued his recent run of form with a try. Andy converted.
Though Tadley had a handsome lead it had not been a one sided game, Phoenix had the edge in the scrum and their lineout went well but the bandits had scored from their 3 visits to the away teams 22, most of the game had been played in the middle of the pitch but Phoenix dominated the ending of the half laying siege to the Tadley line, they went close numerous times, great defence and penalties held them at bay and with The Bandits on a final penalty warning, it was desperate stuff. The last play of the half Phoenix went wide but the backs defence matched the forwards and Tadleys line stayed intact, 19-0 at the break.
Tadley again wrung the changes, Jo returned for Bosh and Connor came on for the injured Mike J, it was a personal triumph for PD who got threw the half unscathed and quit while he was ahead, Stu switched to 15 and Chris returned. The 3rd quarter was pretty even, both teams played some good rugby putting on a good show for the crowd, defence was on top and it was hard to see where a try would come from but a clever kick from Centre Lea H found space and a kind bounce for speedster Jack C to go over. This was soon followed by centre Ady Wright who thrived in the company of a lively backline having a great game running a strong line to barge over.
In what had been an even game Phoenix suddenly found themselves 5 tries down and upped the tempo to get something out the game, they were soon in the bandit 22 but Scrum half Jake Barker who had distributed well all day showed his kicking skills with a great relieving kick, from the resulting lineout Phoenix attacked down the blindside, Rick O gambled and got the intercept and showed great pace to run half the pitch for the score, conversion hit the post and narrowly missed.
The visitors again chased the game and this time Jo intercepted, pushed away a player and set off down the pitch, seeing how far it was he wisely gave the ball to Gareth who ran in from distance, Andy converted.
Phoenix again finished the half strongly and went over for a well-deserved try. The scoreline definitely flattered the Bandits but their clinical finishing and a couple of lucky breaks was the difference in an entertaining match.
Bandits of the Match – Jo Robertson, Chris & Connor
Bandits- PD, Gareth, Ady Wr, Lea H, Jack C, Andy W, Jake B, Tank, Pie, Neil, Murph, Bosh ©, Jo R, George, Chris, Rick O, Connor, Stu H, Jordon, Mike J, Mark A, Leo