Phoenix vs The Crows



This week, the Crows crossed County lines for the 2nd time this season, taking on Buckinghamshire side, Phoenix, for the first time since February 2020. Once again, lucky with the weather, in what is turning out to be a particularly mild Autumn, the Crows arrived in good time, ahead of the last 3pm KO before kick off times are brought forward over the Winter months.

In the absence of Tom Dowd, James Derlacki moved from prop into the 2nd row, whilst Steggall and George Watson returned to the back row, alongside Birthday boy, Tom Dyson. In the backs, Shepherd stepped into scrum half, in place of the injured Jee and Jack Booth made his first start of the season, at 13.

The Phoenix side were blessed with considerable bulk in the forwards, which paired perfectly with their undersized pitch. It was clear that space was to be at a premium in this match. To their credit, Phoenix started the brighter of the 2 sides, kicking well to force the Crows back deep into their own half and then using their strong driving maul effectively at line out time. First blood went to Crowthorne, after a promising break from Shackleford resulted in a penalty in front of the sticks, which Holden dispatched, to make it 0-3. However, Phoenix then enjoyed a very strong 20 minutes, again using their big forward pack to good effect and chasing kicks well, to score 2 converted tries and take a 14-3 lead. At this stage, Crowthorne stepped up the intensity and started to find holes in the Phoenix defence but kept trying to overplay and throw one pass to many, when calmer heads were required. 14-3 down at half time, the team remained calm and the coaches explained where the opportunities would come in the 2nd half.

Starting the 2nd half, the Crows began to apply even more pressure to a visibly tiring Phoenix side and soon enough, the breaks began to come, firstly with Shepherd finding space and sprinting in under the posts after a “Sonny Bill” style offload from number 8, George Watson. Converted by Holden, Crowthorne were now just 14-10 down. Shortly after the restart, a well executed line out move, saw Watson make strong inroads into Phoenix territory, before the ball was shipped to Shackleford, who powered through the last 2 defenders, to cross the line and put the Crows 14-15 ahead. Again Holden nailed the conversion. 14-17 Crows.

Again, straight from the restart, Crowthorne surged forward and a further Sonny Bill moment from Watson to Shepherd, saw the scrum half cross for his 2nd of the day and 5th of the season! No conversion this time but at 14 – 22, the Crows were in real control. About 15 minutes into this purple patch, the Crows scored their best try of the season so far and in doing so, securing the 4 try bonus point. Skipper, Tom Stock, called the line out to himself and was found expertly by Bullett, before a strong driving maul, gave Shepherd the perfect platform to launch the backs. The ball travelled all the way across the back line to the flying American, EJ Lang, who got to within inches of the line before unselfishly providing the scoring pass for Marriott, going over for his first Crowthorne try in the process. A difficult kick from the corner was not converted, leaving the scores 14-27, mid way through the 2nd half.

Shortly after this, another fine piece of interplay between backs and forwards, saw Joyce hit the ball at full tilt down the wing but Phoenix did well to hold him out. The pressure was not relieved for long however and from a Crowthorne scrum shortly after, Watson picked up and barged his way over the line, taking several defenders with him, to make it 14-32. Holden added the icing on the cake by slotting the conversion. 14-34 to the Crows.

A lot of praise has to be given to Phoenix for the way in which they didn’t let their heads drop and picked themselves up after the 5 try blitz, to have the better of the final 15 minutes of the match. After a big defensive stand and winning the ball back, the Crows frustratingly turned over possession, as indiscipline crept in and Phoenix crossed to make it 19-34 and moments later, 21-34 with the conversion added. There was still time for one further consolation score and with it, a losing bonus point and a 4 try bonus point for Phoenix. Try converted and the final score was 28-34. A hard earned win on the road for the Crows.

After what was a good natured game, the clubhouse hospitality that followed, was excellent. Delicious food, great selection of beers and the most inventive man of the match / dick of the day ceremony that we’ve encountered so far this season! We’ll have to think up something similar for the return visit.

A number of the Crows really stood out on the day, notably Watson & Shackleford for strong running, Steggall for an impressively high work rate and Holden for controlling the game well but man of the match honours went to Shepherd for being a constant threat with his sniping runs, as well as tackling exceptionally all match!

This victory puts Crowthorne into 2nd place, just 1 point behind league leaders Rams, who are next Saturday’s visitors to the Nest. All supporters are encouraged to get along to what promises to be a cracking game of rugby. As always, for any new players wishing to get involved, we train every Tuesday night at 7pm. All welcome.


Date Time League Season
29/10/2022 3:00 pm Counties 3 Tribute Berks Bucks & Oxon South 2022-2023


The Crows15334Win


Position T C P DG

The Crows

# Player Position T C P DG
James DerlackiFront Row0000
Kankudai OsborneFront Row0000
Tom Stock2ND Row0000
George WatsonBack Row1000
Clive ShepherdBack2000
Edward LangBack0000
Matt MarriottBack1000
Marc BullettFront Row0000
Jacob MollettFront Row0000
Tom DysonFront Row0000
Sam TaffBack Row0000
Dan CoombesHalf Back0000
Craig JoyceBack0000
John CaseyBack0000
Dominic SteggallBack Row0000
John HoldenHalf Back0310
Jack BoothBack0000
Charlie ShacklefordBack1000
 Total 5310