Burntwood RUFC 6 Veseyans RUFC 22

Graham Shelley comes under pressure. Pic: Joanne Gough

Graham Shelley comes under pressure. Pic: Joanne Gough

Three games in eight days seemed to take its toll on Burntwood in the second half of this Midlands 3 West North league fixture.

After their exertions in overcoming Tamworth in midweek to reach the final of the Staffs Intermediate Cup, high-flying Veseyans were not the ideal opponents, especially when they were inspired by their player-coach Zak Feaunati.

The hosts were in contention at 10-6 down on 50 minutes but a try by Veseyans gave them enough breathing space to control much of the rest of the game.

Matt Wood hit a post with a penalty attempt from 40 metres after just two minutes but Veseyans drove the ball downfield to earn a penalty of their own which Sam Irvine kicked to open the scoring after nine minutes. He missed an easier chance five minutes later, skewing his kick right of the posts.

Burntwood enjoyed a good spell of pressure going into the second quarter, winning possession at scrum and line out to force the visitors back into their own 22.

Matt Bray came into the back line from the opposite wing which drew Veseyans offside and Wood levelled the score with the resulting penalty.

Prompted by livewire scrum half Ollie Whitehouse and surging runs by skipper Graham Shelley and prop forward Mark Poole, Burntwood kept the pressure on and Wood put his side ahead with a penalty for not releasing after half an hour.
However, Burntwood fumbled the restart kick to put themselves back in trouble. Feaunati’s pass to a fellow back row forward saw the No 7 race in for a try which was converted.

Matt Sishton’s enveloping tackle close to half time gave Wood another penalty award but he struck his effort to the left. Another promising position was lost right on the break when the hosts were penalised at a line out in the right corner.

Graham Shelley tries to burst through a tackle

Graham Shelley tries to burst through a tackle. Pic: Joanne Gough

Burntwood were keen to get back into it after the turnaround. Whitehouse, Mark Partridge and Shelley linked well from their own 22 to take play into the visitors’ half but an infringement cost them the ground made.

Irvine missed a penalty and then a catch and drive was held up over the home line as Veseyans stepped up a gear. From the ensuing scrum, they worked the ball out to the backs only for the outside centre to cut back through heavy traffic to make the line.

They were close again five minutes later but Burntwood survived with Whitehouse leading a breakout to near half way. It led to a difficult penalty kick by Wood into the wind. He struck it well but it slipped to the right.

Veseyans almost sealed the game with 15 minutes to go. Twice they drove at the home posts and then when the ball was shipped right, the pass was dropped to deny a certain try.

Going into the last ten minutes, Burntwood had a rare attack into the visitors’ 22 following a break by Whitehouse and a punt to the corner by Wood but the line out ball was fumbled.

In the last action of the game, Veseyans kept the ball alive well in the forwards for Feaunati to score and Irvine to convert.

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