‘Ensians travelled to Rotherham in high spirits after two wins in the League despite players being unavailable for various reasons. However they soon knew it was going to be a tough game as straight from the kick off when they lost the ball against the head at the first scrum to the heavier Phoenix pack resulting in a penalty goal giving Phoenix a 3-0 lead. ’Ensians fought back immediately with a Connor Bateman penalty goal after six minutes to tie the score .Rotherham retaliated to test the firm ‘Ensians defence but on eight minutes they conceded a further penalty goal to give Phoenix a 6-3 lead. For the next period the home team were camped in the visitors 22 but again the superb defence held.
Then after fifteen minutes ‘Ensians set up their first meaningful foray into the home half with both wingers Declan Jackson and Connor Bateman being provided with testing running chances by their back division. This resulted in a great penalty goal from almost 40 metres against the wind by Connor to level the scores. Play was even for the next ten minutes but it was quite apparent that the heavier Phoenix forwards were giving the ‘Ensians forwards a hard time “up front” but the opposite was the case with the backs.
From a scrum near the ‘Ensians line despite good defence a tackle was missed and Phoenix scored a converted try but not to be outdone ‘Ensians came back and Declan Jackson nearly scored in the corner. In the next attack Luke Cowdell was pulled back illegally when going for the line and from the resultant penalty Rob Arbuckle barged over for a typical try converted by Connor Bateman to level the scores once again at 13 points each after 32 minutes. There followed another great defensive effort from ‘Ensians with the home team camped on their line but eventually Phoenix broke through to score a converted try to make the score 20—13 after 38 minutes. From the kick off Phoenix pushed the visitors back into their own 22 with a well executed rolling maul but not to be outdone on the stroke of half time the visitors turned over the ball, opened out to the backs where Luke Cowdell made the initial break, and gave a great pass to Declan Jackson who ran 60 metres round his marker and outpaced the opposition to score the try of the match converted by Connor Bateman to level the scores at 20 all.
‘Ensians started the second half strongly and spent much of the first ten minutes in the opposition half but the home defence held. Then after fifty one minutes the home team set up a telling rolling maul resulting in a converted try’Ensians were playing together much better this half .The forwards were holding the home pack in the loose with James Dyson ,Greg Jones and Oli Cooper to the fore and Paddy Phipps showing up well on his début. A score was on the cards and it came after sixty one minutes following a scrum where Rob Arbuckle took the ball and passed to Declan Jackson who beat all opposition to score an unconverted try wide out to make the score 27—25 to the home team.’Ensians continued to dictate play with Rob Lofthouse and Oliver Eaves linking well at half back but Phoenix were a tough team and were able to match the attacks until they gave away a penalty in their own 22 which was kicked by Luke Cowdell to give ‘Ensians the lead for the first time in the match by 27---28 points with ten minutes to go. This setback fired up Rotherham who used their forwards to gain a five metre scrum from which they scored a push over try to achieve a hard fought win and bonus point by 32points to 28 points.’Ensians had tried hard throughout the game and well deserved their own bonus point.
The 2ndXV did not have a game as the opposition could not raise a team. Next week ‘Ensians play Stocksbridge who were also promoted last season.