Rugby Union: Doncaster Phoenix and Wheatley Hills make winning starts

Action from Phoenixs win over Nuneaton. Photo: FSP Images
Action from Phoenixs win over Nuneaton. Photo: FSP Images

Doncaster Phoenix got their Midland League Premier Division campaign off to a winning start with a high-scoring 38-31 win over Nuneaton at Castle Park.

Phoenix got off to a flying start when former England U18 scrum-half Sam Pocklington, who played several first team games for Rotherham last season, touched down.

New captain Sam Bottomley weaved his way over with Pocklington and Will Holling combining to create a one-on-one for wing Seva Bulumakau who chipped his man and won the race to the ball.

Full-back James Wright helped secure his side a bonus point when diving over in the corner.

Trailing 26-3 at the break, Nuneaton hit back with four second half touchdowns but tries by wing Josh Fowler and replacement full-back Ryan Sorrell kept Phoenix in the driving seat.

Relegated Wheatley Hills started their Yorkshire One campaign with a 13-9 victory over North Ribblesdale at Brunel Road.

The visitors dominated play, as they did for most of the first hour, in the opening quarter and Wheatley did well to restrict them to a 3-0 lead.

Wheatley took the lead against the run of play on 26 minutes when scrum-half Ian Barker intercepted a pass on his own 10 metre line and held off the cover to score under the posts. Dave Laycock added the extras.

Ribblesdale continued to press but could only add another penalty and trailed 7-6 at the break.

Wheatley continued to defend well after the break, especially when restricting the visitors to a penalty while Jack Calver was in the bin.

Laycock kicked a brace of penalties on 62 and 77 minutes to give Hills more breathing space.

Ribblesdale finished strongly only to be denied again by some resolute defence as Wheatley held out to claim their first win in 17 months.

Director of rugby Olly Dixon said: ‘It wasn’t pretty or the performance we wanted but we got the result, which is the most important thing. Our set piece went well and our defence was outstanding. We will build on the this and put right the things that weren’t quite there this week against Scarborough.”

Thornensians flattered to deceive when going down to a 20-19 Division Two defeat by Ripon at Coulman Road.

The home side led 19-3 at the interval but Ripon got on top in the forwards in the second half and scored 17 points without reply to claim the spoils.

Wing Luke Marsden touched down for the first of Thorne’s three first half tries when racing in at the corner.

Flanker James Currie added a second try following some good work by his fellow forwards with half-back Rob Brown adding the extras.

The North Yorkshire side cut the deficit with a penalty.

Flanker Arron Holt touched down for what turned out to be Thorne’s last try, goaled by fly-half Will Clay.

Thorne’s hopes of building on their interval lead weren’t helped by having two players sin-binned and at one time they were briefly down to 13 men.

Ripon closed the gap to 19-10 with a 50th minute converted try and they added a second penalty and converted try to take the lead.

Clay, who had missed several earlier kicks at goal, was wide with a 79th minute penalty.