Crows Vs Phoenix



January 28th 2023 marked the club’s annual Presidents day. A great opportunity to honour a founding member and long term servant of the club, Ian “Chippy” Macleod! To start the day, the Thorns put on a fine display in an excellent festival of Women’s rugby, in which 3 teams combined to put on an entertaining game and a good time was had by all who took part.

Following this, the President’s lunch got into full swing. So much so, that the assembled dignitaries completely forgot to bring the new scoreboard to the touchline for a pre match presentation. However, that was rectified post match!

The Crows fielded one of their strongest line ups of the season, having the rare luxury of around 90% of the squad available for selection. Returning to the side was your correspondent, veteran skipper and now sleep deprived new Father, Tom Stock. In the front row, Osborne moved to hooker, bringing loose head prop Sam Turner into the starting lineup. The back row was unchanged from Marlow away and in the backs, there was a return for Josh Roberts at scrum half in the only other change.

The Crows were expecting a tough physical battle up front, after the abrasive fixture away at Phoenix earlier in the season but were also quietly confident that the vast expanses of the Nest would present opportunities out wide for the more mobile home side. This largely did prove to be the case, with Crowthorne starting the game very strongly, after a short kick off was gathered by Osborne and the Crows were able to clear their lines through Holden and advance deep into the Phoenix half. Clive Shepherd was typically lively on the wing and within the first few minutes, had a try ruled out for a foot that was judged to have been fractionally in touch. The deadlock did not last for long however, as Shackleford burst into space, breaking through tackles to cross for the first try of the day.

Phoenix at this stage did fight back and a strong driving maul then released a Phoenix forward who burst clear, only to be called back for an earlier infringement. Crowthorne nerves were soon settled however, when the ever present full back Matt Marriott crossed for his 3rd try of the campaign. There were further first half tries for Sam Clarkson and a quick fire hatrick for Shepherd. One Shepherd try being a contender for try of the season. Started by the quick thinking Dowd, who spotted a gap in a ruck on the half way line and galloped straight through the hole in defence before offloading to Stock, who carried over the 22 before releasing Roberts, who was brought down just inches from the line. The ball was then quickly recycled and went through the hands of Holden and Shackleford, before Shepherd finished the job in the corner!

With a commanding half time lead, the Crows coaching team rang the changes, with Bullett, Taff, Dyson, Joyce, Smith and Dawkes all entering the fray, as well as Redpath making his debut for Phoenix to help them out with numbers in the back row! There were further tries in the 2nd half for Clarkson, Shackleford, and Albert Watson. The final tally was 3 tries each for Shepherd and Clarkson, 2 for Shackleford, and one a piece for Marriott and Watson. Of the 10 attempts at goal, Roberts converted 5 from 8 and Shackleford slotted 2 from 2. Roberts bizarrely nailing the tricky touchline conversions but missing those that were straight in front! Roberts’ Dick of the day credentials however, were destroyed by Osborne, who tapped and went from a metre out, only to drop the ball over the Phoenix line and claim the DOD honours for the 3rd time this season!

The referee decided to end the contest on 60 minutes, as Phoenix resources began to run dry. In a season when 2 sides have already conceded fixtures at the Nest, resulting in lost revenue for the club, we are extremely grateful to Phoenix for making the trip, despite being extremely stretched for numbers, with a 2nd XV fixture on the same day. We ourselves, were in this position many times last season, as we worked to rebuild the squad post Covid and understand more than most how difficult it can be to travel to a tricky away game short on numbers, so hats off to the Phoenix lads, a credit to their club.

The man of the match honours went to Clive Shepherd, who put in the most notable performance on what was the best overall team performance of the season so far. Also, honourable mentions for Clarkson, who maintained his narrow lead at the top of the scoring charts, just one ahead of Shepherd and also to Holden and Shackleford, who managed the game beautifully at 10 and 12.

Finally, we can’t finish this report without a mention for the flying American, EJ Lang, who was playing his last game of the season for the club before hopefully returning next season. EJ has been an absolute star since he arrived. Not only working hard to improve his rugby ability and put in some outstanding performances on the wing but also by having a 1st class attitude in never missing a training session and always being the first to volunteer to help around the club. We wish EJ well in New York and hope to see him back in Crowthrone next season!

The Crows now move on to a pivotal match away at Rams on 11th February. Please travel the short distance to Rams and add all of your support this weekend! #COYC


Date Time League Season
28/01/2023 2:00 pm Counties 3 Tribute Berks Bucks & Oxon South 2022-2023


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The Crows

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Position T C P DG