Phoenix Win Opener Over Charlotte Catholic

Dec. 5, 2015

Updated Wednesday January 20, 2016 by Niall Fenton.

After a number of rescheduled fixtures, the Phoenix High School fall 15's program finally got underway on Saturday with our Varsity and Junior Varsity sides participating in the Clemson Pre-Season Rugby tournament.

The Varsity squad, although missing a number of starters through injuries and SAT's, fielded a strong team against perennial southeast powerhouse Charlotte Catholic. Not surprisingly, the Phoenix team started nervously and, as a result, quickly conceded the opening score to a very confident Catholic team. Phoenix, however, quickly rallied and responded immediately with a well taken try from Chris Bagby following a good passing sequence from the Phoenix backs. Unfortunately, immediately following this score, momentum swung the other way when Phoenix, instead of clearing their lines, elected to run inside their own 22. To compound the error, the resultant pass went to ground where the Catholic fly half scooped it up to score under the posts. Phoenix did however block the conversion. Although it was now 12 to 10 in favor of Catholic, the rest of the half belonged to Phoenix with three further tries coming as a result of a terrific carry off a tap penalty from Christian Calvallo, a penalty try engineered by Nick Koumandarakis and another individual effort from center Chris Bagby to leave the halftime score at Phoenix 31 : Catholic 17.

The second half continued with Phoenix camped in the Catholic half but dogged and persistent defense denied Phoenix the try fest they enjoyed in the first half. The tries were tied in the second period at two apiece with captain Nick Koumandarakis and Chris Bagby crossing for Phoenix. The Catholic tries, although well taken, were classic examples of poor tackling on the part of Phoenix and this is clearly an area on which the coaches will focus in the practices this week. There were some strong performances from a number of Phoenix players notably Chris Bagby plus Campbell Robinson and Ollie Kennett who were making their Phoenix debuts. However, the star of the show was Nick Zimmer, playing in the back row for the first time and looking like an All Star in winning the Man of the Match award. Next up for this team is Chapin next week where an improved performance is both anticipated and expected.

The Junior Varsity squad, supplemented with a few additions, gave a terrific display of grit against a very strong Charlotte Tigers team. The defense was outstanding with Ben Fagg and Eric Cooper making some pain inducing hits while Logann Cridick looked very confident at the base of the scrum. Leading 12 to 10 up until the absolute last second of the game, they were unlucky to concede a try that resulted in a 14 to 12 Tigers win and were left to rue an earlier conversion missed from in front of the posts. The game marked the rugby debut of JR Everett who looked like a future star in the making. Notwithstanding the narrow defeat, it was a very encouraging opening performance and bodes well for the team in their next JV game against AYRA at North Park on Saturday, December 19.