Sat 16
Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV
2nd XV
Sheffield 2s still top after third bonus point win in a row.

Sheffield 2s still top after third bonus point win in a row.

By Paul Bradwell
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Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV 19 - 26 Sheffield 2nd XV


Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV 19 - 26 Sheffield 2nd XV

Sheffield 2s still top after third bonus point win in a row.

The 2s made the trip across to Doncaster for the second time this season, having already won away at the end of August. Following on from last week’s impressive performance against Harrogate, the two Bens – Parker and Whitney – joined fellow Ben and 2nd team captain Shoresy in the 1st team. Will Hodgson and Brad Chandler came in at 9 and 10 respectively, with Danny Williams starting on the wing and Josh Leonard moving to full back. Whitney’s absence meant that Tommy Marples was promoted from his bench spot last week to start in the front row, though a late change in player availability meant that the team travelled without much in the way of cover in the tight five.

The day got off to a great start, with Adders revealing that in an attempt to dry his plastic (and frankly painful to look at) boots, he had put them in the oven and promptly forgot they were there. Apparently the melted boots didn’t fit him anymore, so he’d unfortunately had to go and purchase a pair of sensible boots on the way over. Everyone’s eyes were grateful.

The game began with a Phoenix kick-off, and Sheffield quickly settled into their first spell of possession. After several phases, Doncaster found themselves short-handed in defence on the left side of the field, causing their fly half to gamble on an intercept. The catch was well taken and he was left with a free run in to the posts. The conversion from in front of the posts was subsequently slotted by the Donny 15.

Doncaster 7 – 0 Sheffield

After a good kick off by Josh Leonard, Sheffield started to apply the pressure, with the backs putting good width on the ball and the forwards turning the screw on the Donny pack in the scrum. Having claimed good territory after a number of kicks, Brad “Intercept” Chandler popped the ball to the Doncaster 12, and it looked like he could be in for their second score. Matty Adcock broke in the new boots to chase him down, causing the Donny man to float an offload over the top which was artfully picked off by everyone’s second favourite Fairclough. Will managed to finish well after a mazy run and give Josh a shot at the posts. To everyone’s amazement, the extras were added and Sheff were back on level terms.

Doncaster 7 – 7 Sheffield

The game continued to be quite open, with Cameron and Salty nearly linking up well on the wing, and Ross Hobbs living the prop dream by punching through a gap in the three quarters to give him a run for the line. Unfortunately, an acute case of agoraphobia kicked in, causing Hobbsy to throw the ball away and turn possession back over to Phoenix.

Just before half time, Doncaster managed to stretch the Sheffield defence to score in the corner, and though the conversion was missed, Sheff still went into half time down.

HALF TIME Doncaster 12 – 7 Sheffield

Over half time, better Fairclough and interim 2nd team manager Dave stayed true to his pre-match promise of “not being shouty or sweary” and reinforced the fact that Sheff needed to go back to basics and play our patterns. Squawk managed to stop talking about how “when he was captain we won the double” long enough to offer some input, and some changes were made with Sam Whitworth coming on at hooker, Joe McHale swapping with Ali Womack and Tadhg Campbell coming on for Joe Carrington – who was allowed out after being grounded for swearing at his mum.

Another good kick off from Josh meant that Sheffield could pin Doncaster back in their 22. Phoenix were perhaps guilty of trying to playing a bit too much rugby a bit too close to their own line, and when a loose pass was thrown by one of their backs, Beta Fairclough was once again there to pick it off and run it under the posts. Josh again managed to shock the travelling support by bisecting the uprights – leaving everyone to wonder what went wrong the previous week.

Doncaster 12 – 14 Sheffield

A strong period of pressure by Sheff meant that they had all of the territory and most of the possession for the first 20 minutes of the half, with good yards made around the outside by Joe McHale and Danny Williams, and strong carrying in the middle of the park from Ben Hopkinson and Kingy. However, the team were tiring and fell into something of a lull at around the 25 minute mark in the half. As the game started to open up, the Doncaster backs again managed to swing the ball wide and allow their winger to dot down in the corner. The conversion went over, and Doncaster led with a little over quarter of an hour remaining.

Doncaster 19 – 14 Sheffield

For the majority of those 15 minutes, it seemed difficult to see where the score that Sheffield so desperately needed was coming from. The effort levels were there, but for a lot of the lads the tank was clearly empty, and Doncaster managed to take a chunk of the territory and land themselves in our 22. A good defensive set resulted in a string of penalties that allowed Sheff good field position and a platform to build on. With two minutes remaining, Sheffield were piling the pressure on the Donny try line, and Will Hodgson sniped smartly around the ruck to cross the whitewash and give Sheffield a third try.

Sheffield still needed the extra points to win the game, and the position of the kick was identical to the one that Josh had missed in the last minute at Harrogate last season (single-handedly costing us two points in the process). He managed to banish the ghost of that performance though by confidently stroking the ball between the posts and setting up a tense finish.

Doncaster 19 – 21 Sheffield

The relief on the touchline was tinged with disappointment that Sheffield didn’t seem like they were going to continue their record of picking up 100% of the available points so far this season – though it transpired that this disappointment wasn’t to last very long. From the kick off, Sheffield set up phase after phase of tight carrying by the forwards. Tommy “2nd XV” Marples was tireless in attack and Rob Holland (who had earlier replaced Hoppo at 8) carried about as many yards as he’s put on kilograms since he stopped being a viable option in the backs. As Sheffield marched up the field, a missed tackle gave Rob a half break around the fringes, and he managed to get his hands free from the covering tackle to offload. The ball was unfortunately knocked on by the supporting runner, giving Doncaster a scrum with 15 seconds on the clock. As they had done earlier in the match, they opted to swing the ball wide, and their 13 fumbled his catch and Will Fairclough was once again on point to pick up and take the ball over the line and collect his hat trick. A return to form for Josh meant that he missed the conversion, but with time up the extras would only have taken away Donny’s bonus point that, on the balance of play, they probably deserved.

FULL TIME Doncaster 19 – 26 Sheffield

Another good win, another 5 points, and still plenty of room for improvement for the 2s. Who needs Cotton anyway?

1. Hobbs 2. Owens 3. Marples 4. Bain 5. Salt 6. Carrington 7. Adcock 8. Hopkinson
9. Hodgson 10. Chandler 11. Womack 12. King 13. Fairclough 14. Williams 15. Leonard

16. Whitworth 17. Campbell 18. Holland 19. McHale

Try Scorers

Fairclough (3), Hodgson


Leonard (3)

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Match details

Match date

Sat 16, Sep 2017





League position

Sheffield 2nd XV
Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV