Rugby Union round-up: Doncaster Phoenix see off rivals but Wheatley and Thorne suffer defeats
'˜Success breeds success' could well be the Doncaster Phoenix motto after they followed up their 90-pointer against Stockport with a hard earned 52-36 away victory over arch rivals Morley in National Three North.
After their modest start to the season, Phoenix now have a 50 per cent record from their first six matches and look to be regaining the form – and confidence - which has seen them progress through the Yorkshire leagues and North One East.
The big win over bottom placed Stockport was to be expected, but the match at Morley could have gone either way and Phoenix twice had to fight from behind before coasting to what, on paper, looked an easy win.
It was anything but, and the game reflected last season’s close results in North One East when single tries separated the teams in both meetings, with home advantage making the difference. While Phoenix won the league to secure promotion, Morley followed them via the play-offs.
The Castle Park side took the lead in the first two minutes with a try by winger James Wright, converted by fly-half Jamie Lennard.
But Morley quickly countered with a converted try and then took the lead with two more tries, one converted, to lead 19-7.
However, within less than a minute Doncaster clawed back a try by full-back Will Burden, which Lennard converted.
Lennard was also on target five minutes later when second row replacement Martin Protheroe crashed over, the conversion giving Doncaster a 21-19 lead, and right on half time centre Sam Bottomley touched down to make it 26-19 as the teams changed ends.
But Morley came out in determined fashion, two unconverted tries putting them 29-26 in front after 51 minutes.
That only spurred Phoenix on, and inside centre Andy Ellis took the pressure off when he crossed for a try on 60 minutes to give the visitors a slender two-point lead which they would not relinquish.
Wright crossed for his second three minutes later, Lennard converting, and Lennard also hit the spot when Burden scored his second.
By now Phoenix were 16 points clear, and although Morley pulled back one last try in the 71st minute they had to accept defeat when, as the clock ticked away, 18-year-old second row forward Luke Rivers got over for his debut senior try for Phoenix, Lennard against adding the extras.
Wheatley Hills continue to struggle in North One East and will need to lift their game if they are avoid relegation to Yorkshire One, where they last played in 2010.
Wheatley suffered their sixth defeat from six matches when they were beaten 39-3 at home to Pocklington, who are leading the Yorkshire challenge.
Pocklington were better at distributing the ball, especially in the first half, and turned round 20-3 ahead as Wheatley had only a penalty goal by fly-half Craig Barker to show for their efforts to the visitors’ two converted tries and two penalties.
As frustrations sometimes boiled over that was as far as Wheatley went, while Pocklington went on to score three further tries to pick up a bonus point.
Thornensians, promoted from Yorkshire Three to Yorkshire Two where they are now playing against their long-standing rivals Roundhegians, were beaten 33-22 when the teams clashed at Coulman Road.
The rivalry between Thorne and the Leeds club goes back to well before the introduction of the leagues almost 30 years ago, and although both teams scored three tries in their first league encounter for five years the hosts were never able to get on terms.
They were quickly behind to a penalty goal and converted try before fly-half Andy Barrass pulled back a penalty goal, and Roundhegians went 27-3 in front before the home side made it 27-10 at half time with a try by No 8 Robert Moffatt which Barrass converted.
Thorne were awarded two penalties in front of the posts, opting to go for scrums but not managing to score.
Roundhegians kicked a penalty to make it 30-10, and Thorne were again unable to take advantage of it when they had another scrum in front of the posts.
But they narrowed the gap when second row Tom Hughes crashed over for a try, and Moffatt got over for his second which Barrass converted.
The visitors then claimed a late penalty, the only consolation for Thorne being that their scrummaging was good and a late comeback saw them ‘win’ the second half 12-6.
Wath on Dearne’s scheduled Yorkshire Two match against Old Grovians was conceded by their rivals.