Sat 25
Rotherham Phoenix
First XV
Sheffield Medicals 28 - 6 Rotheram Phoenix

Sheffield Medicals 28 - 6 Rotheram Phoenix

By Matthew Clark
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Quite possibly the best match report in the world...


Norton Playing Field (The Fortress)

The pendants snapped in the wind, the tips of the lances gleaming with sunlight. The French Horde was massed upon the hill to the south, the valley bottom strewn with dying Genoese Crossbowmen. The confusion of war had taken its toll on the head strong and arrogant French Knights. Caught between the biting English Arrows and French Lances the retreating crossbowmen had been left with no choice, but death. The French turning on their own only hastened to encourage the massed longbow men behind their stakes. It was clear that a common archer from the English countryside could best a French Lord with only his yew longbow and his fellow Englishmen.

But this happened in the 100 year war in Northern France and holds no relevance whatsoever to the “battle” that took place on the afternoon of the 25th of February. This stirring piece of descriptive writing doesn’t come close to describing the passion shown on the field of play that fateful day, a clash between a Silverback Gorilla and a Kodiak bear, perhaps does the epic scale of the clash more justice.
The game was huge for both teams, effectively securing promotion with a medic’s victory and keeping Phoenix’s promotions hopes alive with an away side victory. The medic’s side, (which is entirely made up of current University students, with no young professionals or post grads in the team) had their best run throughs of the year on Friday night, showing what can only be described as Amer like passion. (Have you ever met a man so passionate as Amer? I think we can all learn from the passion he shows in day to day life, and appreciate having such a fierce and loyal team mate.) The line looked well oiled and swift, with the hooker taking the huge amount of pressure on his increasingly broad shoulders, and hitting his darts one after the other. Some described his line outs as absolute pearlers, the partnership of Hooker Wright and Line out General Fawdry was looking absolutely unstoppable, potentially due to the fact they had developed a bond that only 2 men can have when destroying muscles day in, day out at the gym together. The scrum looked strong and the pack seemed unified (in reality our scrum didn’t really fair that well in the game itself). When linking up with the back the team looked well oiled and confident. The team after all had been beaten rather resoundingly up at the Phoenix’s nest earlier on in the year. Going into this game anything but fired up would result in having their backsides handed to them by the strong Rotherham Pack.

After an entirely uneventful meet, the passion and togetherness of the team carried through to warm ups. The seeming loss of the team’s pin up boy Mike Watters only slightly dinted the passion that armoured the entire squad. His flowing locks and ghosting runs had proven to be a rallying point for the team so often this season, the Medics strength in depth showed after Mike played on for a few minutes before realising he was broken, as Jimmy “ED 2.0” McLeod swaggered his way into his preferred centre role, with Rob Causer an ever present on the wing this season, making his way onto the pitch. (Some say he has taken too fondly to alcohol and his playing days are limited, who these some are though, we are yet to find out.)

The game started in earnest with some serious pressure from the Rotheram Pack, phase after phase of their big runners crashing into the Medics defensive line, every man on the Medics team having to make tackle after tackle, a theme that would carry on throughout the game. The centres fronted up well for 80 minutes against opposite numbers who must have literally been twice their weight. After solid defence from the Medics turn over ball was won and after some great phases J mac ran in a try out wide which was fantastically converted by the flag bearer of a fly half Farmer.

The set piece as ever would prove to be key, it would be fair to say that the pack struggled in the scrum against a much larger and more experienced set of forwards. This was somewhat disappointing as scrums in past weeks and at run throughs had been gaining in strength. The pack was acting as a unit and calling in the scrums and driving as one, the Pheonix front row however proved to be too strong ( and two of whom and fantastic beards, that chafed on the face somewhat by the end of the game). The line out however worked like a dream, whilst sacrificing weight in the scrum, there was a clear gain in the agility of the line out. A catch and drive from a beautifully weighted throw led to the medics catching and driving over the line, to be scored by Shaw. (Who always seems to be on the ball when we’re close to the opposition’s line, does he ever actually drive or do any of the hard graft? When questioned he replied “no”.) The try was again converted by Farmer from out wide.

It was at this point in the game that constant defending of hard hitting runners grew too much for the aforementioned Shaw, who took it upon himself to single handed break every single rule in the law book surrounding the contact area. It was a surprise to no one that his face looked like a grated pomegranate rather quickly. Silly penalties led to Phoenix gaining a foot hold in the game, with the score at 14 – 6. (Cheers Alastair [although the 10 had a great nudge on him, and after so much pressure Phoenix did deserve some return]).
It was around this time that Rob “FTR” Conville was threatened with a sever stabbing in the car park after the game by the Phoenix coach (who turned out to be rather a nice chap), after confirming twice that he was being serious, FTR looked slightly bemused and worried, this however did not stop him from being a threat every time he got his wee hands on the ball. Running some devastating lines and ghosting through the defence.

Half time Medics 14 Phoenix 6

Both sides came out from half time refreshed and full of energy(ish). Rotheram put together what must have been dozens of tight phases hammering the guards around the break downs. The medics fronted up well and Rotheram began to throw the ball out wide to impressive effect. With both wingers and full backs making good yardage. Being one of the few teams played this year who put the ball wider than 13 it is clear to see why they hold such a high position in the League. The medics however showed impressive determination to stop the much larger team and defended for their lives for and extended amount of time in their own 22.

With around half the half gone Fawdry was slammed down from a line out dangerously by the Phoenix substitute prop (optimismising the term old school). The outraged Fawdry turned around to perhaps get angry, then saw who it was and thought better of it. The referee kept his cards in his pocket because the offender had “only just come on the pitch”. (Not entirely sure if this is a valid reason, perhaps rugby ref could enlighten us). Fired up from the incident Fawdry took a crash ball on the Phoenix 22 and slammed home into 3 defenders with a combined weight of upwards of 50 stone. The Phoenix line held firm, Fawdrys impressive 90kg however winded one of the defenders who was taken off the pitch.
The incident galvanised the team who proceeded to throw together some complex and effective phases spreading the ball out wide, before the supporting run of ever present Matthew Clark (and captain, by ever present I mean he is pretty decent at support play) drew the pass inside, his pass then found the run of Tris who slid over the line to take the scores to 21 – 6. (Perhaps it is key to note here that Tris played pretty well, ran some cracking lines and showed his natural gas in abundance, this performance is mirrored by the Performance of George “shadow warrior” Cusworth who put his body on the line time after time for the good of the team, and quite deservingly got MOM. I wish the opposition would stop picking on George, he really is the nicest guy you will ever meet, not a bad word to say about anyone. If they want to pick on anyone stick with Ali, he genuinely deserves it.)

Continued pressure led to last try of the game. Conville perhaps imagining his would be attacker chasing after him put in a very nimble run with a cheeky kick to follow, putting the Medics in Phoenix territory. A well executed lineout once again gave the back clean ball, the backs then ran a well executed move (JAM), with FTR scoring, Farmer converted to bring the score to 28-6.

The scores stayed like this, a special mention to the Medics props who fronted up against much bigger and stronger players and kept putting in 100% for 80 minutes. The line out again needs mentioning, with the hooker throwing like a dream (not biased). Very impressive determination and defence form the Medics, who were very clinical throughout.

A well deserved win, but well played to Rotheram who look a real force to be reckoned with.

MOM – George
TOM – Mike
SOM - Not actually sure apologies.
And remember chaps “Glory is like a circle in the water which never ceases to enlarge itself, and so by broad spreading disperses to naught. A true warrior never seeks glory. Glory always finds him.”

Lets continue the good work. Onwards and upwards.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 25, Feb 2012




Yorkshire Division Three