Cheshire Phoenix 81 (24,40,65) (Watt 22, King 16, Murray 16) Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 88 (15,40,64) (Smith 30, Fletcher 17, Thomson 10, Jones 10)

A typically vibrant 30-point effort from ‘Prince’ Charles Smith handed Esh Group Eagles Newcastle a success at Cheshire Phoenix and a share of the lead at the top of the BBL Championship table.

In a feisty and physical encounter which witnessed Phoenix veteran David Aliu ejected, the visitors had to overcome a poor start which had seen the hosts lead 24-15 at the end of the first period.

However, Smith made a string of triples to help his team level matters at the break at 40-40 and the intense and absorbing action continued in the second-half as Phoenix flourished to establish a one-point advantage heading
into the last quarter.

But, just when it looked like they might bounce back from the disappointment of their stomach-churning one-point loss to Riders on BBL TV 24 hours earlier, they were hit hard by the loss of Aliu.

While enduring a poor shooting night, his experience could have been vital and led by Smith and a nice cameo from guard, Rahmon Fletcher, the Eagles creeped away as they made free-throws and plays when it mattered.