Shire Hall 22 Phoenix 8 – 8th September 2018 – Match Report
Shire Hall started their BBO Championship campaign in style with a 22-8 win against Phoenix.
Having lost their previous four season openers Shire Hall were keen to banish the hoodoo and started perfectly scoring with their first attacking play. Good forward work down the right provided the platform for the ball to be fired down the line to Rhys Stewart who with work to do stepped inside his man to score out wide. 5-0.
Phoenix hit back with a penalty shortly after but it was Shire Hall who scored again soon after. Strong carries in the midfield eventually created space for Matt Margot who following a trademark shimmy broke the line to score under the posts. 12-3.
With Shire Hall now firmly on top, the lead was extended on the stroke of halftime. Having camped on the Phoenix line the ball was eventually spun out to the backs where the ball somewhat inevitably hit the deck. However, front row turned centre Chris Harber showed great reactions to dribble the ball past the oncoming defence and dot down under the posts. HT 19-3. (Somewhat a fluke I think!)
The second half was a contrast to the first with Shire Hall playing into the hands of the big Phoenix pack. A series of penalties allowed Phoenix to spend the majority of the half deep in Shire Hall territory. It was testament to the Shire Hall defence that Phoenix only profited from one of the many driving mauls they had in the Shire Hall 22. In response Shire Hall scored one penalty with the crucial bonus point try eluding them. FT 22-8.
A good performance all round with the pack really standing up well to a very physical Phoenix set piece. Rhys Stewart was MOTM making a number of breaks down his wing in addition to his clinical finish.
Captain Matt Margot made the following comments after the match;
“All of our summer preparation paid off in the first half, allowing us to build a 3 try advantage. We played some positive attacking rugby allowing us to score three well worked team tries. In the second half our lack of discipline could have cost us the game, giving away far too many penalties around the breakdown.”
Next week Shire Hall welcome Winslow to the Berkshire County Sports Ground keen to build on the promising start to the season.