PENDLE welcomed Chorley to a wet and bitterly cold Hodge House on Saturday, hoping to improve on the previous week’s sluggish victory.
Phoenix were missing eight first team regulars, but this gave a chance for the rest of the team to state a claim for a starting position.
With Chorley fielding a very big outfit, Pendle knew that the tackle area would be of massive importance. The inclement weather also meant that Pendle’s usual wide running rugby would have to be reined in, and the forwards would be expected to make the hard yards forward.
Phoenix’s team talk before the game was about fronting up in defence for the first 10 minutes and putting their opponents on the back foot.
However, within two minutes Pendle found themselves under their own posts and trailing 7-0.
Pendle had to regroup, and straight from the kick-off Jay Ashger, Shawn Moss and Nick Martin put pressure on the Chorley receiver. The hosts kept pressurising the Chorley attac,k and this seemed to work as Pendle managed to spend majority of the half camped in the Chorley half.
Pendle finally crossed the try line after Andy Dutton attacked the Chorley defence and slipped a pop pass to a charging Rob Lawless. He powered his way through two tackles before being stopped short of the line, but Sonny Waddington was in close support and collected the ball and raced clear to score (pictured). James Redford kicked the conversion and Pendle found themselves level at 7-7.
Pendle continued to control the game and spent most of their time in the Chorley half.
Chorley were tough to crack and it wasn’t until hard straight running from Stu Riley, Luke McNamee and Liam Canning meant that Dave Morris could get quick ball away from the ruck. Redford found space on the outside and great support from George Butler saw him racing towards the line looking for his first try for Pendle. Excellent cover defence from Chorley pushed him into touch and the score remained level.
However it wasn’t long before James Finucane’s stolen ball at the ruck set Pendle on the front foot and stretching the Chorley defence. Pendle knew that the weather conditions meant that simple rugby was the way forward, and runs from Liam Canning and McNamee pushed Chorley deep into their own 22. This time, however, Pendle made simple passes and eventually worked the overlap to see Andy Dutton squeeze in at the corner. Redford missed the conversion and with only a few minutes before half-time Pendle led 12-7.
However, when sloppy defence again resulted in Chorley scoring, Pendle went into half-time losing 14-12.
With the weather conditions deteriorating minute by minute, Pendle knew that there would only be a few chances in the second half. For the first 10 minutes it looked like both teams weren’t going to get another chance to score as the game was littered with silly handling mistakes.
However when Dutton saw a bit of space behind the Chorley winger and kicked over his head, Pendle had the platform to start building some pressure. Finucane hit Canning in the lineout and a quick ball to Jay Ashger saw him drive hard into the Chorley defence, forcing the visitors to give away a penalty. Redford was asked to kick the penalty and sent the ball through the posts with ease. Pendle finally had their noses in front at 15-14.
With only 10 minutes to go both teams knew the next score would be the winning one. It was only when Chorley tried to clear their lines and kicked the ball straight to Lawless that Phoenix managed to counter-attack. Lawless beat the first defender and found Waddington to get Pendle into the Chorley 22. Martin and Riley were on hand to clearout the resulting ruck and Morris fed Dutton, who surprised everyone by attempting a drop goal. The kick went through the middle of the posts and Pendle stretched their lead. Phoenix managed to see the rest of the game out and were happy to be on the right side of an 18-14 win.
Pendle awarded man of the match to Dutton for his control of the game and coolness under pressure. Pendle would also like to thank match ball sponsors The Last Trading Post for their support.
If you are interested in playing rugby, Pendle are always looking for new players.
You can also ring Ben Peverley on 07977992080.