Handsworth RUFC 26 Burntwood RUFC 25

Burntwood slipped up in their quest for league honours but they couldn’t blame the frozen conditions which forced the cancellation of other games in the region.

The university pitch at Handsworth was in pristine condition and seemed tailor-made for their style of rugby. But uncharacteristic handling errors and flimsy defence plus a committed home side, determined to ease their concerns near the foot of the table, combined to create a surprise result.

The opening quarter of an hour followed the form book with promising attacks by Burntwood being rewarded with two penalty goals by Matt Wood.

However, the first sign of things to come came direct from the restart after the second goal. Handsworth won the maul and their No. 8 exploited slack defence down the blind side to score in the corner from 30 metres.

The hosts went ahead after 28 minutes with another soft try. Line out possession was driven into the visitors’ 22 before being released to the backs. The full back strode through non-existent cover for a try easily converted under the posts.

Wood responded with his third penalty after 34 minutes but there was still time for Handsworth to score their third try of the half close to the whistle.

Burntwood turned possession over at a maul infront of their posts. The ball was moved right for a try in the corner to leave the visitors trailing 17-9.

Playing down the slope with the sun in Handsworth faces, Burntwood were not out of it and two early penalties by Wood brought them up to 15-17, although they lost skipper Graham Shelley with a leg injury – replaced by Paul Rogers.

Back came the hosts. The Handsworth No. 8, a thorn in Burntwood’s side all afternoon, broke from halfway up to the five metre line. The ball was moved left for what seemed a perfectly good try but it was not awarded. Instead, the home side were given a penalty from infront of the posts which was converted.

Rattled by events, Burntwood conceded more penalties and two more were kicked to extend the lead to 15-26 although Wood was on target again immediately to leave his side eight points down going into the last 15 minutes.

It was not until stoppage time that Burntwood finally crossed for their only try of the afternoon. A sustained attack featuring Ben Holt, John Haire, Matt Bray and Ash Stanton was finished off by Pete Reynolds. Wood converted.

They had one last chance to salvage the points from the restart but in attempting to run  from deep, the ball was knocked forward and the match was lost.

This Saturday (February 6) Burntwood host Pershore in a quarter final tie of the RFU Midlands Senior Vase – kick off 2pm. It is also Sponsors Day with a pre-match buffet at 12.30pm.

On Sunday morning the U16s welcome Burton and the U13s and U12s both host Veseyans.

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