Thatcham 3s showing heart at Phoenix
By Graham Keep
Phoenix 2s - 13 v 47 - TRFC 3s
After talks all week long about whether or not this fixture against Phoenix 2’s would go ahead, both teams were able to put out last minute sides with the help of some of the Aldermaston lads filling up the Phoenix team allowing the game to go ahead.
It was Thatcham that kick started the game off earning themselves a number of scrums early on. The pack was immensely strong for Thatcham with the likes of Ansu Lebbie, Andrew Arnold and Scott Talbot controlling the almost jogging pack and winning basically everything. This then allowed the newly budded partnership of makeshift scrum half Sam Adnams and even more makeshift Fly Half Liam Hume to exploit the backs early on allowing Thatcham to take an early lead. One scored by Liam Hume, the captain of the day, the other by the familiar face of Michael Bolton who is a regular at Aldermaston nowadays. These were then both converted by the boot of Sam Adnams.
Come the half hour mark, Phoenix were having a comfortable 5 or 10 minutes of possession. Thatcham however, were defending for their lives with James Saunders and Chris Boxall especially, hitting anyone or anything that came down their channel! This eventually led to a high tackle by one of the Thatcham players unfortunately, allowing Phoenix to convert an easy penalty directly underneath the posts. 3-14.
Thatcham now wanted this game even more than they did to start with! A lot of these lads hadn’t played for over a month. The mentality of the Thatcham boys lead to two very well finished tries. The first with great offloading from the backs, overlapping the Phoenix backs allowing full back Colum Sullivan to gas it over the try line. The other coolly assisted by Michael Bolton, drawing in the defender and popping it back inside to find Hooker Martin Hutchins to allow him to sprint away to glory. Both again slotted home by scrum half, Sam Adnams. This brought the game to half time with the Thatcham lads absolutely buzzing. 3-28.
The second half began with the introduction of Thatcham’s only sub, David Wren, giving second row Darren Giles a chance to focus on being physio for a while what he originally intended to do. Phoenix started the half the stronger team out of the two. Playing the game ruck by ruck, targeting any gaps in the Thatcham defence. With centre partnership Michael Bolton and Matt Barker doing wonders in the defence and Colum Sullivan and Sam Adnams instructing everyone which gaps need to be filled. Thatcham eventually gave away another silly penalty. This time quickly tapped by Phoenix’ scrum half and popping it to their Number 8, Phoenix ploughed towards the Thatcham defence with Ansu Lebbie and Jon Hutchins giving a great joint effort of keeping the ball alive, there was nothing they could do about it. 8-28.
Thatcham screwed their heads back on from the off. This time it saw Sam Adnams trying to snipe his way through the defence as well as Matt Barker running great hard lines. It eventually fell to Michael Bolton finding a pocket in the defence. He only had the full back to beat, but instead of trying the world’s biggest step, he thoughtfully popped it up to his right to allow Number 8 Scott Talbot to tumble over the line, again, converted by Adnams. Thatcham were then well in their zone again, quickly scoring two more tries by again, great dominance in the scrum, allowing Hume to close down a clearance kick and jump on it getting his second of the game and bringing Kieren Osborne in on the action outing pacing all of the opposition. Hume’s well finished try unfortunately resulting in Adnams’ 100% kicking record coming to an end. 8-47.
Thatcham were really getting into the stride of things now coming up to the 75 minute mark. It even allowed some of the players to think they were professionals. When the likes of Colum Sullivan starts chucking no-look passes behind his back is when you know the players were having a great time! It even made Andrew Arnold think that he could call his name on the kick off and then totally move out of reach of the ball.
In the last minutes of the game, Phoenix’s front rower had to be subbed off with an ankle injury, resulting in Darren Giles allowing the game to be played on and coming on for the opposition. However, when we leant him to Phoenix, we had no intentions of him making a try saving tackle on the forever running Colum Sullivan!! Best tackle of the game by far! Phoenix had a last minute surge chipping it over the top of the Thatcham defence with lee rhodes trying his absolute hardest to do anything to stop the try but unfortunately being beaten. The try was not converted and the full time whistle was blown. Thatcham 3’s win 13-47. An absolutely fantastic game of rugby with every Thatcham player gleaming when walking off the pitch. Even Slobs would’ve smiled if he was there.
Man of the Match went to full back Colum Sullivan for totally tearing up the pitch with his sheer speed and reading of the game so well from the back.
Liam Hume x2, Colum Sullivan, Michael Bolton, Kieren Osborne, Scott Talbot, Martin Hutchins
Sam Adnams 6/7