Another Big Win for Phoenix Sevens Squad
Saturday, October, 28, 2017Updated Thursday November 2, 2017 by Niall Fenton.
On October 28 the Phoenix Varsity Sevens teams left Alpharetta bright and early to participate in the Halloween Sevens in Knoxville, TN. The weather was cold with continuous rain but all of the Phoenix sides, Varsity, Development and JV were optimistic and anxious to replicate the great result from the Stones River competition where Phoenix ran out Varsity tournament champions.
The Varsity side opened against McMinn County and quickly demonstrated how a good passing Sevens side can overcome a large physical team in winning 49 to 0. This early win clearly showed that this Phoenix Varsity team would be very difficult to beat, regardless of the conditions. The next game was against Bearden Rugby, the home side and consequently operating at full strength. Bearden were clearly a gifted side and scored first to lift their confidence. However, Phoenix immediately responded with a try from scrum half JR Aldridge followed by a storming effort from Ben Fagg carrying s Bearden players over the line on his back. From then on it was always Phoenix who triumphed comfortably by 22 to 5. By this point in the tournament, the condition of the fields was becoming an issue and the organizers decided to finish out the pool games and decide the overall winner at that point. Thus, Phoenix faced Father Ryan, an excellent team, in their final game with the competition for the overall win now between the unbeaten sides in Phoenix, Ravenwood, South Doyle and Father Ryan. The Irish started strongly and it was only due to some strong tackling from Phoenix that their try line was not breached. Griffin Tucker, Kyle Monahan and newcomer Jack Howard were immense in this area with one particular tackle from Tucker standing out. It is a credit to the team tackling that they prevented Father Ryan from scoring while racking up an impressive 4 tries of their own. In end the final score was Phoenix 24, Father Ryan 0. When the final points totals were tallied up, only Phoenix and South Doyle were undefeated with Phoenix prevailing comfortably by scoring 20 more points than South Doyle. Phoenix were Varsity champions again and finish the Sevens season not having lost a single game. It was particularly impressive that, in this elite tournament, Phoenix only conceded one try while scoring 19. JR Aldridge was named Man of the Tournament but special mention needs to go to debutee Jack Howard, Elvis Pressley and Brendan Bibb who did double duty all day on the JV team. Well done Phoenix!
The JV side were essentially making their competitive debut and acquitted themselves well with a runner-up finish to tournament winners Ravenwood. They took a game to really get going but after an initial loss to the eventual winners, took strong wins against McMinn County (32-0) and Bearden (10-5) to finish 2-1. I have no doubt that, had the tournament progressed to the knockout stage, they would have been a hard side to beat. Outstanding performers were Brendan Bibb, Andres Lozada and Jack Lavelle but, in reality, the entire team performed well in their debut tournament.
The Development side were primarily at the tournament in order to give game experience to a host of new rugby players prior to the 15’s season beginning in early November. Although succumbing to heavy defeats from Bearden, Ravenwood and South Doyle, they never gave up and played for the jersey if not for the win.
Despite the poor weather, this was a great tournament for Phoenix, not just for the Varsity win but also for all of our boys who fronted up in appalling weather conditions as Phoenix teams should. A big shout out is also due to the Phoenix parents who were unwavering in their support for their sons.