Rishies have no answer to Phoenix firepower

Old Rishworthians and Rotherham Phoenix scrum down
Old Rishworthians and Rotherham Phoenix scrum down

Rotherham Phoenix 45 Old Rishworthians 30

Rishworthians were completely blown away by the power of the Rotherham Phoenix forwards and fell to only their second Yorkshire Three defeat of the season.

The home side scored five tries, two from lineout catch and drives and two more from forward pressure.

Phoenix had done their homework on Rishworthians after the two sides’ last meeting in the Yorkshire Silver Trophy when the Copley men triumphed at Rotherham in game where the home team’s forward power was not enough.

With players missing and a lightweight pack it was always going to be difficult for the visitors, who failed to get their expansive game going and wingers Anthony Shoesmith and Joe Billing hardly touched the ball throughout the match.

It meant that Rishworthians’ lead at the top of the division slipped to 19 points with five games left and player coach Damian Ball will be working hard with his players this week as they prepare for another game against a strong pack next week at Northallerton.

His side got off to a poor start and were six points down after five minutes after giving away two penalties.

They got one back through stand-off Josh Kelly before moving into the lead. Back rowers James Clarke and Chris Dyson drove the ball forward before it went out.

Kelly put in a perfectly timed pass to put Ball into space. He found fellow centre Kurt Sutcliffe, who cruised over. Kelly added the conversion.

Dyson then burst through and shrugged off tacklers in a 50-yard run to the line. Kelly added the conversion and at 17-6 it looked like business as usual for Rishworthians.

Instead, the home pack took charge and the visitors were unable to stop a try from a catch and drive. They then moved into the lead with a converted try as non-existent Rishworthian tackling saw a Phoenix flanker run through to touch down.

Kelly restored the lead with a penalty before Phoenix took charge again with a second converted catch and drive try.

Kelly kicked another penalty, but the home side got three points with another in the last act of the half to lead 28-23 at the break.

Rishworthians came out strongly in the second half and regained the lead, Ball running through to score after a great lineout take by Fraser Swarbrooke. Kelly added the conversion.

But after that it was all the home side. The visitors defended sturdily on their own line for several minutes as the home forwards tried to batter their way over. Eventually the pressure told and the ball went wide for a converted try.

A penalty then brought the deficit to eight points for Rishworthians before they conceded another converted try from a series of forward drives.

The visitors finished the game on the attack, but it was too little too late.