Phoenix Win MSIRL Opener
January 27, 2018Updated Saturday February 3, 2018 by Niall Fenton.
Alpharetta Phoenix travelled to Furman University to take on Greenville in their opening MSIRL fixture of 2018. This was the first competitive outing for the squad following the friendly win over East Cobb Trojans.
After graduating almost their entire team from last year, Greenville fielded a team heavy on athletes but very light on experience. Phoenix in contrast had already recorded impressive wins over both Wando and East Cobb while going down to Rock Rugby in sub-zero temperatures immediately prior to Christmas. However, Phoenix travelled without a number of their established players with Ollie Kennett, Corbin Shanklin, Kyle Monahan, Eric Cooper and Tim Voin unable to play.
Recognizing the heavier Greenville pack, Phoenix played open rugby and were soon on the board with a try from debutant center Simon Marcus following a slick backs move. Jack Lavelle padded the lead with a penalty in the 15th minute before winger Luis Zambrano, making his competitive debut, dotted down in the other corner. Stand-off Mitchell Blair closed out the first half scoring with a nice loop move outside rookie center Rafa Kennett playing in place of his unavailable brother Ollie and performing well. The second half mirrored the first with a hard, physical battle up front. Phoenix lost both star flanker Griffin Tucker and fullback Danny Pena when they attained some minor cuts to their heads following an accidental collision with each other, which unfortunately meant they had to leave the pitch (both players were fine after the game) while Brendan Bibb retired with a leg injury. Notwithstanding the attrition rate, Phoenix continued to score with a further try coming from Mitchell Blair and two tries from Elvis Pressley before he also retired due to a shoulder injury. Starting scrumhalf Logann Cridick moved to flanker as injury cover for Griffin Tucker and played the game of his life making 14 tackles in the second half. He was unanimously named Man of the Match following the game. Special mention should also go to Doug Martin who played a terrific game in his debut for the club after transferring from Titans. Phoenix played an intelligent game against this competent team making sure to play to their strengths rather than engaging in a forward slug-fest. It is significant to note that in games against both East Cobb and Greenville, the Phoenix Varsity have not conceded a single score! The final score was Greenville 0 ; Phoenix 35. Next up for Phoenix in the MSIRL is Irmo in Columbia, SC on February 17.