Phoenix Varsity Wins Rugby Georgia State Final
Wednesday, April 26, 2017Updated Saturday April 29, 2017 by Niall Fenton.
The Georgia Varsity State Final matched perennial in-state rivals Alpharetta Phoenix and East Cobb (formerly Lassiter) Trojans. It was a repeat of last year’s final when lightning stopped play at a critical moment and resulted in the game being controversially awarded to Trojans. Phoenix clearly had no intention of allowing a repeat of last year and led throughout in a very physical but fairly played on the rugby field game at Kennesaw State University.
Early pressure resulted in an easy penalty for Phoenix kicker Ollie Kennett and this was followed by a really terrific score. Phoenix hooker Elvis Pressley took a tight head scrum on the Trojans 22, Marek Lipold picked up at the base and offloaded to scrum half Logan Cridick who scampered over untouched. Ollie Kennett just made the difficult conversion off the cross bar to bring Phoenix to a 10 to 0 early lead and added another penalty shortly after to leave the half time score Phoenix 13, Trojans 0. Going in to the break, Phoenix could feel good about the first half performance. Elvis Pressey had won 4 tight head scrums while Griffin Tucker was perfect at the line out for Phoenix. Strong tackling combined with excellent jackling from Phoenix captain, Bennett Erickson, meant that Trojans were simply not getting enough ball to make an impact.
Not to be outdone, Trojans responded at the start of the second half with a perfectly executed maul from a line out on the Phoenix 5-meter line before Phoenix responded. Marek Lipold, who had a powerful game, made a superb break from the Phoenix 22 before offloading to Ollie Kennett who sprinted in to score. It was not all Phoenix with Trojans putting on a lot of pressure on the Phoenix defense and being held up in goal a number of times. Although only 5 meters from their goal line, the Phoenix forwards seemed always to be in control while working for a turnover. Finally, Ollie Kennett recovered and sprinted from his own goal line to put the game beyond the reach of Trojans. In the last few minutes, East Cobb used their powerful maul to score a consolation try at the end following a strong line break from their out half Shay O'Driscoll. The final score was Phoenix 32, Trojans 10 with Ollie Kennett being named Man of the Match. Phoenix will be pleased to add some silverware to what has been a rebuilding season. Although nothing can fully make up for last season’s league debacle, this win does ease the pain and puts Phoenix firmly on top of Georgia rugby as a result. The Varsity team play South Greenville in their last MSIRL game on Saturday before closing out the season with a game against Greenville at North Park the following weekend.