PHOENIX climbed up to third in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Championship with a hard-fought win over Berkshire Shire Hall at Institute Road on Saturday.

The victory, which came on the final day of the regular league season, means Phoenix will compete in the top four play-offs against Chipping Norton, Abingdon, and Shire Hall, to determine final standings.

Phoenix made a strong start against their Sonning-based visitors and it was not long before a well-worked move saw top-scorer Bradley Coomber weave his way under the posts for a converted try.

However, Shire Hall responded with a nicely constructed try of their own after a loose defensive kick was punished. The try was converted from the touchline to bring the scores to 7-7 at the break.

Phoenix upped their game in the second half with the home pack laying the foundations for a dominant display.

With Phoenix threatening a pushover try from a five-metre scrum, scrum-half Dave Harris spotted an opportunity to snipe over in the corner for a try which inside centre Jason Townsend did well to convert.

The Taplow-based club made the game safe with just seconds left on the clock after another flowing move saw the ball end up in the hands of emergency wing Jack Head, who was left with the simple task of dotting down in the corner.

Commenting on the victory, Phoenix player-coach Tony Porter said: “This was a big game for us as we wanted to ensure we finished in the top four – so on that front it was mission accomplished.

“But what left me grinning like a Cheshire cat was the manner of the victory – we played some fantastic rugby, especially in the second half.”

l SLOUGH RFC ended their seven-match losing run and gave their Southern Counties North survival hopes a boost with a dramartic 26-24 home win against Stow-on-the-Wold.

Greenies are seven points behind third-bottom High Wycombe five games remaining, with their next fixture at mid-table Wallingford on Saturday, March 2.

l DRIFTERS remain ninth in the BB&O Premier table after not having a game last weekend.

They have another blank Saturday tomorrow, returning to action at home to Gosford All Blacks on Saturday, March 2.