PHOENIX returned to winning form in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon (BBO) Championship this season after a 27-0 win away at Harwell on Saturday.

Phoenix had suffered defeat in their two previous matches but secured a well-deserved bonus point victory in freezing conditions in Oxfordshire.

In what has so far proved to be a season of peaks and troughs, the Taplow-based club ended 2018 on a high with a resounding win against a Harwell side who have found points hard to come by.

Phoenix got off to the best possible start with three tries in quick succession. The first coming from full-back Bradley Coomber, who showed good composure to swerve several tackles before dotting down under the posts.

This was followed by a somewhat fortunate try from John Henry Kelly, who nevertheless deserves credit for chasing down a long kick forward which was fumbled by the Harwell full-back as he attempted to ground the ball over the line.

Outside centre Jason Townsend was next on the scoresheet following a powerful run in which he outpaced his opposite number before swallow-diving into the corner.

However, Phoenix did not have it all their own way and were forced into a desperate defence of their try line after an error in midfield saw Harwell make significant ground. A series of crunching tackles and defensive mauls saw them maintain their 17-0 lead until half-time.

Icy rain and biting wind meant that expansive passing became a less common sight in the second period, although Phoenix continued to make inroads when they were able to spread the ball into wider channels.

Loosehead prop Luca Piemontesi crashed over from the 22-meter line after bursting through a gap in the home defence, while winger Gareth Turner produced a classy finish to round off an impressive debut.

Phoenix player-coach Tony Porter said: “The boys put in a fantastic shift in very tough conditions. Our objective for the New Year is to climb up the table.”

The win means Phoenix stand in fifth position in the league table but just two points behind third-placed Faringdon.

Phoenix return to action on Saturday 12th January with a visit to Institute Road from bottom-of-the-table Winslow.