West Midlands Men
Rugby Phoenix 0
Persian Phoenix 3
Rugby’s men first team suffered their first defeat of the season with a disappointing performance against their namesakes from north Birmingham.
Relegated together from division one last season, both teams have aspirations for a quick return to the top flight but on this showing, Persian look the more likely of the two.
With Simon Jones absent, Rugby started with newcomer Nelo Caracciolo as second setter and the Italian soon showed his worth with two winning blocks.
The teams exchanged points throughout the first set with some good defence by Rugby’s Andy Nicklin keeping the home side battling against a potent Persian attack.
However, the set ended tamely as the home side lost 3 points in succession due to poor serve receive and went down 20-25.
Despite mixing the personnel at both outside and middle hitting positions, Rugby couldn’t find any attacking rhythm and the second set followed a similar pattern and ended again 20-25.
In the third set, a confident Persian Phoenix made several changes giving less experienced players an opportunity from the bench.
Initially, Rugby capitalised and took a three-point lead with some penetrating serves, but the visitors fought back as the unforced errors by Rugby continued to mount.
Home team coach, Jon Chetham, searched hard for a formation to turn the tide but the changes had an air of desperation about them, none more so than outside hitter, Mark Fielding, finding himself as setter.
Persian eased away to win the third set 21-25 and claim a comfortable 3-0 victory. Rugby need to bounce back quickly for their away trip to local rivals, Nuneaton next weekend.