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Phoenix Alpharetta Posts Two Shutouts

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Phoenix Alpharetta Posts Two Shutouts

Rafa Kennett moves the ball. Buster Kennett photo.

Phoenix Alpharetta traveled to Knoxville on Saturday to open their MSIRL season against Tennessee Academy. Tennessee are an area side with players drawn from the East Tennessee region and this is their first year competing in the MSIRL. Phoenix came into this match-up unbeaten in their first 6 games with comprehensive wins against out of state opposition in Jacksonville and South Greenville.

Phoenix opened strongly and, following some strong carries from forwards Justice Reeder and Kyle Warmack and a strategic kick from Seb Kennett, began pressuring Tennessee inside their 20 meter line. Several of their forwards went close to scoring and Phoenix had two tries disallowed by the referee.

The first because of a marginal knock-on over the tryline by winger Caen Gress and the second due to a forward pass from John Irwin. However, eventually the pressure told with John Irwin powering over for a good try. The conversion was missed by Seb Kennett to give Phoenix an early 5-0 lead. Despite some excellent defense that limited the Tennessee attacking opportunities, the visiting side spurned several scoring opportunities with 2 simple penalty kicks missed in front of the posts and a simple run-in try squandered when the runner inexplicably stopped short of the line. As the game continued as a close contest, Tennessee began to find confidence and cohesion and a deep break from the host teams's winger was only stopped by a despairing tackle from Justice Reeder. Finally, with the game clock approaching 30 minutes, John Irwin went over for another Alpharetta try with the conversion missed again. At half-time Phoenix held a slender 10-0 lead with all to play for in the second half.

Phoenix got off to the best start possible in the second half with John Irwin darting over for a try in the eight minute after a swerving run. Again, the conversion was missed and Tennessee took heart. They began to gel as a unit and put together a number of sustained phases, two of which were only stymied by last man tackles from Phoenix fullback Ty Loveless. Largely against the run of play, John Irwin went over for another late Phoenix try that secured an Alpharetta bonus point to the relief of the visiting coaches—Tennessee had played a good game. The final score was Phoenix Alpharetta 20, Tennessee Academy 0.

Phoenix coach Buster Kennett said following the game: "Tennessee can take heart from the fact that their team got considerably better as the game progressed and the players, drawn from disparate clubs, began to work together as a cohesive unit. They will improve with every game they play".

Next up for Phoenix is a trip on Saturday to play regional powerhouse Wando in Charleston, SC for their next MSIRL game.

Earlier in the weekend, Phoenix defeated Etowah 48-0 in Georgia league play. Phoenix did well to stifle the big Etowah forward pack. The halfback combination of Seb Kennett and John Irwin were outstanding, with flanker Justice Reeder and prop Kyle Monahan also putting in strong persormances.