Sat 27
Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV
2nd XV
Sheffield 13 - Doncaster Phoenix 11

Sheffield 13 - Doncaster Phoenix 11

By Tom King
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Sheff secure tight win

Sheffield went into this game after an agonisingly close loss to Wharfedale, the team’s first defeat this season. Nonetheless, morale was high going into what turned out to be a tight fought game against Doncaster Phoenix.
In the build up to the game, the back line changed hourly as players were forced to pull out due to injuries or being called up by the 1’s which resulted ultimately in Hodgy starting at 9 and a relatively old school centre pairing of slightly unfit Rob Holland and slightly less unfit captain Ben Shore. Keen Vinnie got a start in the wing and Williams moved to fullback duties. The forwards were their usual quality with the added ballast of Jonny France who had returned after an age away from rugby.
Despite the weather being disgusting in the week building up to the game, credit to Phoenix who’s pitch was in fantastic condition. The scene was set. Sheffield needed to get back to winning ways and today saw the return of Alan ‘inspiration’ Cotton on the sidelines, who would inevitably add his wise words in the mix. A mes up with the ref and start time meant that Sheffield went into the changing rooms 15 minutes before kick off but in a strange way this actually settled the team and allowed the guys another opportunity to scoff haribo and whatever over sugary snacks they could find.
The match started with Sheffield opting to play with the wind first half in an attempt to grind the ‘more rounded’ Phoenix forwards down. Many minutes of phases and excellent structure led to a Sheffield penalty and some points on the board courtesy of Josh Leonard. Noticeably the usually poor line out was firing beautifully and forwards were carrying the ball well. TK, Campbell and Carrington all doing damage. Several strange decisions by the referee had prevented Sheffield turning this pressure into more points, but it was obvious that Phoenix were not going to just roll over. Several penalty kicks were exchanged by both sides and it went into half time try-less.
The second half brought Phoenix’s kicking game and Sheffield’s back 3 had a lot more ball to deal with. Womack put in a couple of tackles in an attempt to prove his critics wrong about his physicality and then made sure everyone was informed that it was him who had made the hits.
The game opened up around the hour mark and after some good structures and tactical kicking Sheffield found themselves in a good attacking position. A ‘shape 2’ was called and the experienced Holland put Shore through a gap who finished off the the left of the posts. His legs giving way just in time as the defence drew closer. Leonard missing the conversion.
This try ignited a Phoenix charge and only some strong defence held them out. Shore showed the team why backs are required to ruck sometimes but why forwards often do a better job, after he got his face smashed by the opposing team’s 7, who loved diving in. With the captain removed from the field, and no back subs, Sheffield saw its heaviest centre pairing for some time with Frenchy moving to 12 and the highly mobile Holland filling the gap at 13.
Unfortunately continued pressure from Phoenix led to a try out wide which led to a very nervous last 3 minutes. Was it I be two losses in a row?
One of the Sheffield’s super subs Yogi made a little break and kept his balance long enough to give a pass to Vinnie right on the touch line. The fast footed winger held his nerve and sped down the wing passed all of the gutted Phoenix fans who were struggling to come to terms with a last minute try. Vinnie scored in the corner with a dive straight out of the 1970’s rugby textbook.
Sheffield held their nerve until full time with some excellent ball retention. Full time 13-11.

This game was closer than Sheffield would have liked but Phoenix always seem to find another level against the boys in blue and white. A rest week this week and then an away trip to an improving Yarnbury. Bring it on.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 27, Jan 2018




Premier Conference A

League position

Sheffield 2nd XV
Doncaster Phoenix 2nd XV