Pendle Phoenix maintain winning form

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PENDLE maintained their recent good form on Saturday as they welcomed Crosby St Mary’s RUFC to Hodge House.

The visitors were hoping for their first win on Pendle soil so straight from the off Crosby took the game to Phoenix.

The hosts’ defence was as inspiring as the week before though, shown by the impressive tackles from Luke McNamee, Daniel Owen and Jay Ashger.

Unfortunately this strength in defence meant the Pendle attack was lacklustre and inefficient. The first meaningful break for Phoenix came 15 minutes in from Craig Wiseman’s turnover ball. Quick hands from Rob Lawless, Andy Dutton and Tarquinn Hempstead-Smith allowed James Finucane space, which he took full advantage of.

Finucane saw space behind the Crosby full back, and with a delicate kick through, Daniel Rowland was able to sprint clear and score under the post. Lawless stepped up for the conversion and added the extras to take Pendle to a 7-0 lead.

Pendle now looked more threatening in attack and it wasn’t long before the home side were piling on the points.

With strong runs from Nick Martin, Stuart Riley and Sterling Ross, Pendle slowly worked their way up the field in into meaningful positions.

Phoenix camped on the Crosby line and it was only a matter of time before Daniel Owen broke a tackle and off loaded to the nearest supporting Pendle player.

Luke McNamee crashed over the line (pictured) to score the second converted try of the game as Pendle moved 14-0 in front.

Crosby had not travelled to make up the numbers though, and kept the pressure on Pendle.

Crosby’s impressive number eight found a few holes in the Pendle defence but the back three of Dave Morris, Shaye McCullough and Tee Hempstead-Smith kept them from scoring.

With time running out in the first half, Pendle had one last opportunity to score which they took with open arms.

Crosby had a defensive scrum in their own half but when Martin, McNamee and Ashger put the pressure on the Crosby scrum, Pendle managed to take a scrum against the head.

Ross picked up the ball and sprinted to the line to continue his try-a-game average. Lawless stepped up and from wide out on the far left touchline nailed the kick between the post to take Pendle to a 21-0 lead at half-time.

Pendle were eager to make changes at half time and Liam Canning, Jan Askew and James Redford were only too happy to get onto the field of play. The next 20 minutes of the game were very competitive and both sides had a good chance to score.

Pendle’s hard work was rewarded though when McCullough scored the fourth try of the game to secure Pendle a bonus point victory. Again Lawless continued his 100% record and added the conversion to send Pendle cruising at 28-0.

Pendle were still hungry for further scores, and when Canning charged down the Crosby clearance kick, it looked likely until the ball bounced into the grateful hands of the Crosby full back, who sprinted the full length of the field and scored under the post. Crosby added the extras and they reduced the arrears to 28-7.

Pendle had the bonus point win in the bag, and could have been forgiven for seeing the last 10 minutes out.

However Phoenix decided to bring on Terry Hardy for his first start of the season and the impact was immediate when he picked up a ball from the back of the a ruck and drove into the heart of the Crosby defence to give Pendle a platform on which to build. When Morris fed the backs quick ball, their great hands found Lawless in space and he in turn found the supporting Andy Dutton, who sneaked in at the corner to score the final try of the game.

Again Lawless calmly slotted the extras for a final score of 35-7.

Pendle couldn’t just award the Stafco Man of the Match to one player, so they awarded it to Lawless for his impressive kicking display and Ashger for his strong runs and tireless work in defence.

Pendle would like to thank match sponsors Inflamat.