Phoenix attack looks lacklustre in opener at Hodge House

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On Saturday Pendle entertained Birchfield RUFC, hoping to avenge last season’s cup final defeat. But it didn’t go to plan in a 28-5 reverse.

Phoenix felt confident, and the first 10 minutes showed the home side were up for the challenge.

With excellent strong runs from Jay Asghar, Luke McNamee and Riccardo Ferndizi, Birchfield were on the back foot.

However, excellent defence from Birchfield kept Pendle at bay.

Birchfield were the first to score when Pendle were penalised for hands in the ruck. Birchfield were quick to point at the post and take the three points on offer for a 3-0 lead.

Pendle seemed to fall asleep for the next 10 minutes and Birchfield were soon celebrating their first try when sloppy defence allowed Birchfield a simple try. Birchfield’s kicker added the extras and they led 10-0.

Pendle knew they were up against it and needed leaders on the field. They were unlucky when James Redford cut through the Birchfield defence only for the referee to stop play for a foul in back play.

Pendle were next to score when Carl Wiseman turned over ball at the ruck and Daniel Rowland fed Sonny Waddington, who placed a kick through deep into the Birchfield 22. An excellent kick chase defence from Paul McGladdery, Kyle Snowden and Shaye McCullough forced a knock on from the Birchfield full back. From the resulting scrum Pendle provided quick ball to Daniel Rowland, who squeezed in at the corner for a try. Shaye McCullough missed the resulting conversion but Pendle reduced the arrears to 10-5.

With half-time approaching Birchfield added a penalty goal as well as a drop goal on the stroke of half-time to take a 16-5 lead.

Captain James Finucane talked about improving Pendle’s attack and making the most of opportunities when they presented themselves.

The first 10 minutes of the second half were very even with both sides making breaks but unable to convert any chances. Pendle were unlucky to lose Luke McNamee, Nick Martin and McCullough to injuries so introduced Terry Hardy, Phil Perry and Michael Taylor. All these changes seemed to unsettle Pendle and Birchfield took full advantage, scoring two tries and converting one to extend their lead to 28-5.

With time running out, Pendle needed to attack and ran from every opportunity. Pendle camped down in the Birchfield half for long periods of time, however the Birchfield defence was too much for a lacklustre attack and they kept Pendle at bay.

The Crown Hotel man of the match was Craig Wiseman, and the clubthank match ball sponsors Stafco for their continued support.