Doncaster Phoenix make winning start in Midlands Premier

Doncaster Phoenix started their Midlands Premier campaign with a hard-fought 16-10 win at home to Nottinghamshire side Paviors.
Tom O’Brien scores on his debut for Doncaster Phoenix. Photo: FSP ImagesTom O’Brien scores on his debut for Doncaster Phoenix. Photo: FSP Images
Tom O’Brien scores on his debut for Doncaster Phoenix. Photo: FSP Images

Before the curtailment of the 2019/20 season the two sides shared the spoils with a win apiece in two high-scoring fixtures.

Eighteen months on and rugby finally returned but this encounter was a much closer contest with both clubs happy to simply be back playing.

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Both sides understandably showed a little early season rustiness after such a long lay-off while also having to adapt to new rules.

The wide spaces of the Castle Park pitch suited the fast-running Phoenix side who, after a couple of attacks, were rewarded with a penalty on the 20-minute mark.

Fly-half Seth Adams slotted over to chalk up the first points of the season and five minutes later added a second in front of the posts to open up a 6-0 lead.

Paviors went on the attack and found themselves camped deep in Phoenix territory for the next ten minutes.

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Held up short on a couple of occasions the visitors tried to use their forwards to drive over but without success and when they did spin the ball wide the Phoenix defence stood strong before winning a penalty and clearing their lines.

Paviors soon rued their missed chances and on 35 minutes, after slick handling between forwards and backs, Phoenix turned defence into attack and full back Tom O’Brien, on debut, scored a try in the corner which was excellently converted by Adams to stretch the lead to 13-0.

Paviors did mange to pull back a penalty on the stroke of half time to reduce the deficit to 13-3.

The second half was a very cagey affair. Phoenix attacked well on a couple of occasions but the elusive final pass just didn’t go to hand.

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They did extend their lead to 16-3 on 62 minutes with a third penalty from the boot of fly-half Adams.

Paviors finished strongly and, with Phoenix down to 14 men due to a yellow card infringement on 70 minutes, the home defence had to work harder than ever.

With two minutes to go the visitors went in under the sticks and the conversion reduced the deficit to 16-10.

What could have been a nervy end for the home side actually saw them finish the game on top, venturing deep into the visitors’ territory right up to the final whistle.