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Phoenix Alpharetta Gets by Germantown

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Phoenix Alpharetta Gets by Germantown

Phoenix scores. Sean Burke photo.

Phoenix Alpharetta defeated Germantown 31-18 Saturday in a game that provided a good test for both teams.

Germantown, ranked #15, started its best side and took a 15-0 lead into the break. They then ran in their 2nd, and Phoenix ran away with the second half.

It was a perfect day for rugby in Georgia. Having made the trip from Memphis that morning but kicking off at 4:30, Germantown came out firing from the whistle, pinning Phoenix in their own half for the first fifteen minutes. After appearing very comfortable, the Phoenix defensive wall finally slipped to let the Mustangs in following some powerful pick-and-goes. 

Phoenix then started to play with the intensity expected and proceeded to make their way up into the Mustangs half with some clever positional kicking.

Strong defensive pressure inside the 22 from the Mustangs flyhalf, Baylor Williams, won the ball back and launched the Mustangs backs with a bulldozing run by center Ian Bullock, with three Phoenix players needed to bring him to the ground. The Mustangs decided fullback Carson Richards would take the three points on offer and it was 10-0. Williams decided to switch things up and put a number of high balls in the air to test Phoenix fullback Santi Podesta, who was starting his first match. Podesta didn't drop a ball all day, and was impressive in his elusive running and counterattacks. , but not dropping a ball all day, and making many elusive counterattacks and connecting with support runners. In fact, the fullbacks from both teams had stellar days.

The possession and territory on the pitch was pretty even for much of the first half, with the Mustangs finding an unusual but one-time gaping hole in the Phoenix defense close to the halftime whistle to take another five. Phoenix marched back down the field immediately and pulled three back with a penalty from Sebastian Kennett, to make the score 15-3 at the half.

At the kickoff for the second half, Phoenix upped their intensity levels and started to compete more aggressively at the rucks, winning a number of turnovers. With a temporary turn of play, Richards took the points when he could, to make it 18-3. However, following the kickoff, and number of pick-and-goes, Phoenix got on the halfway line, with lock Dean Howell making a good 10 meters in open play before offloading to Kennett, who glided through a number of tackles to run the ball 40 meters into the corner, converting his own try from wide, to make the score 18-10. The game momentum had switched in the first five minutes of the half. The game was played with rolling subs so both Germantown and Phoenix were continuing to make a number of temporary substitutions to both rest players and to give both squads valuable game time. The defensive pressure from both teams was immense.

Jacob Siler, who came on in the second half at prop, made an impact for Phoenix, making many meters with ball in hand and setting up great attacking ruck positions.

With the Phoenix attacking intensity racking up a notch again, and Germantown slow to reinsert some substituted players, the pressure started to pay off for Phoenix. A yellow card against Phoenix, dropping them to 14 men, only seemed to rev-up their momentum. Prop Kevin Parsons went over at close range, with Kennett converting to make it 18-17. John Liam Burke, celebrating his 15th birthday and playing at openside, went over with Kennett converting to make it 24-18 to Phoenix. Burke repeated the trick again from close range, with Kennett converting to make it 31-18 at the final whistle.

This was a well thought game, and a real battle in the first half, with Germantown earning the half, but Phoenix doing well to come back.

Bullock and Richards were very good for Germantown, and Hayden Jonson and Andrew Blevins on the blindside and No. 8, respectively, for Phoenix were also strong. But it was Sebastian Kennett who ran the show today, controlling the structure, ending with a try and a perfect 5-for-5 day with his kicks at goal.

 

On Sunday, Germantown turned around to play the formidable Charlotte Tigers and lost 64-6. Charlotte handled Germantown's impressive size and, as they have all season, moved the ball with impressive speed.