Phoenix Beat Tigers & N. Meck

January 16, 2016

Updated Sunday December 9, 2018 by Niall Fenton.

On Saturday, the Phoenix Varsity and Junior Varsity squads travelled to Charlotte to play regional rivals Charlotte Tigers and North Mecklenburg in eagerly anticipated encounters for all the clubs involved.

Phoenix, playing without captain and scrumhalf Nick Koumandarakis, opened the scoring in the varsity match up with the Tigers with Cristian Calvallo powering over the line following a tap penalty. Ollie Kennett, playing scrumhalf for the first time but doing a great job, duly converted to make it Phoenix 7, Tigers 0. The game then became a battle of the opposing packs within the 20 meter lines until a telegraphed pass from Nick Zimmer was intercepted by star Tigers center, Korbin Miller, to run 60 meters and score easily. Half time had the teams tied but Phoenix appeared to have the edge overall. Coach Clinton opined at half time that whoever scored first in the second half would likely win the game and so it proved. Flyhalf Mick Mitchell floated a terrific kick above and beyond the fast advancing Tigers defense and Da’Mon Ingram made a spectacular catch. Da’Mon was not to be denied and, swerving past the remaining two Tigers defenders, scored under the posts. Ollie Kennett made no mistake with the conversion and, true to Coach Clinton’s prediction, the game ended with Phoenix ahead by 14 points to 7. This was the best team performance to date by the Varsity squad and it demonstrated that they can raise their game when they need to against quality opposition. Of particular note in this game was the performance of hooker, Tyler Blanchard, who took four scrums against the head while losing none of his own. This outstanding performance was echoed by lock, Campbell Robinson, who dominated the line outs for Phoenix.

Next up for the Varsity side was North Mecklenburg and this game, unlike the proceeding encounter, was not close. After a disjointed first 10 minutes, Phoenix went on a scoring spree with Da’Mon Ingram and Chris Bagby both scoring hat tricks in a dominant 55 to 0 win for Phoenix to cap a great day for the squad.

The Junior Varsity squad was supplemented by three Middle School players in Justin Cooper, Mateo Podesta and Mark DeSantis who all acquitted themselves at this elevated rugby level. The team split their games with Tigers and North Meck, easily beating the latter but losing out to a very strong Tigers side. Of particular note was the game performance of JR Aldridge who looks like a star in the making.

Overall it was a superb weekend for the Phoenix club. The Varsity side remains unbeaten while the Junior Varsity team continues to improve and develop. A final shout out to Kyle Monahan who played his heart out and featured in every game on the day ---- well done Ironman Kyle!