Pendle Phoenix get back to winning ways

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PENDLE got back to winning ways as they welcomed Eagle to Hodge House on Saturday.

Phoenix were hoping for a good start to the game and they weren’t disappointed.

Straight from the kick-off, big tackles from Jay Ashger, Daniel Edmondson and James Finucane put pressure on Eagle. With Daniel Rowland controlling the forwards and strong running from the likes of Stu Riley and Nick Martin, it wasn’t long before Pendle were in the Eagle half. Eagle, however, weren’t at Hodge House to make up the numbers and their defence was well organised and looked strong.

The pressure eventually told when Eagle were adjudged for handling in the ruck and quick thinking from Tarquinn Hempstead found Rob Lawless in space, who went on to beat three of the defence before being held up short of the line. Sonny Waddington showed excellent support and Lawless was able to offload, allowing Waddington to open up the scoring. Lawless added the resulting conversion, moving Pendle into a 7-0 lead 10 minutes in.

Eagle came straight back at Pendle, and when a series of penalties went in the visitors’ favour Pendle found themselves in their own 22 and defending hard in order to keep a strong running side out.

Big-tackling performances from Dave Morris, Nathan Peverley and Jonny Harper (pictured) kept Eagle from scoring and when they received another penalty, Eagle decided to take the points and reduce the arrears to 7-3.

Pendle put the ball deep with the resulting kick-off and Craig Wiseman managed to steal the ball, putting Pendle back in possession and again working their way into the Eagle 22. Pendle found the Eagle defence hard to crack though and it was only when a run from Riley took three Eagle defenders that Pendle found space and Benjamin Peverley scored in the corner. Lawless stepped up and from the touch line just missed the conversion but Pendle still extended their lead to 12-3.

Once again Eagle came straight back at Pendle and showed the hard running they are known for. Eagle finally broke Pendle’s defensive line and the winger squeezed in at the corner. Eagle missed the kick and Pendle remained four points in front at 12-8.

Pendle decided it was time for a change and leading point scorer James Redford replaced Lawless. The see-saw match continued and it was Pendle’s turn to add to the score when a crossfield kick was collected by Daniel Edmondson- he found Redford on his inside shoulder, and his kick through caused panic in the Eagle defence as they tried to clear their lines. However they only found Pendle’s captain Finucane, who side stepped his way to the Eagle try line. Redford missed the conversion and Pendle again stretched their lead to 17-8.

Pendle now had their tails up and started running the ball at Eagle looking for bonus points. Phoenix got their reward when they were given a scrum on the halfway line.

When Luke McNamee broke from the back of the scrum he drew two players on him and was able to offload to Daniel Rowland, who showed his pace and sprinted to the Eagle try line. Redford composed himself and slotted the extras to move Pendle further into the lead at 24-8.

With half-time fast approaching Pendle were hoping to ease into the second half. Eagle had other ideas though and when they continued their fight back Pendle realised the game wasn’t over. Eagle’s powerful running resulted in a penalty and just before half-time Eagle reduced the arrears to 24-11.

At half-time Finucane and Harper talked about being patient and not forcing the issues. Pendle made a few changes which saw Daniel Owen and new signing Andy Dutton replace Craig Wiseman and Nathan Peverley.

Owen’s impact was evident straight away when he started pressurising the Eagle scrum half and number eight. The second half was much like the first with both teams having periods of dominance but the finishing touch seemed to have eluded both sides.

It was time for a change and Pendle brought on George Butler and Lawless to return to the action. The changes seemed to spark new life into the game and Pendle were pushing the Eagle side back into their own half. Finally the opening score of the second half came when Pendle spread the ball wide and Rowland showed some quick hands, finding Nick Martin in space who in turn tore towards the Eagle line only to be stopped short once again. However new signing Dutton was in close support and collected the ball to score his first try for Pendle. Redford added the extras and Pendle extended their lead to 31-13.

The final 10 minutes were spent in the Pendle half with Eagle chasing the game. With some powerful direct runs Eagle found themselves in the Pendle 22 and only great tackling from Tarquinn Hempstead, Waddington and Luke McNamee managed to hold up the ball when a try looked certain. From the resulting scrum a big drive from the Eagle pack resulted in the referee awarding a penalty try. The Eagle kicker was happy enough to add the extras and Eagle reduced the score difference to 31-18. With the final whistle blown, supporters from both Pendle and Eagle had enjoyed a highly competitive match with some excellent rugby played from both teams.

Pendle awarded man of the match to Riley for his hard straight running and his hard work in the scrum.

Pendle would also like to thank match ball sponsors PRINTING.COM for their support.