Match report: Burntwood RUFC 17 Leek RUFC 24
Seventeen points from outside half Matt Wood were not enough to earn a win for Burntwood RUFC but they did secure a losing bonus point which was a vast improvement on the drubbing they took at Leek back in October.
With Rob Cartwright skippering the side in the absence of Graham Shelley, Hal Gozukucuk returning to the back row and hooker Rhys Morgan making his first team debut it was a new look home side which took the field and they had the ideal start after just four minutes.
A kick downfield was chased by Wood who kicked ahead again to touch down for the first try. He added the conversion to put his side seven points up.
Leek hit back with a sustained attack, aided by a couple of penalties conceded by the hosts, which eventually gave Gary McDermott three points with a penalty goal after 15 minutes.
Five minutes later Burntwood stretched the visitors’ defence following good driving play by Mark Poole, Jack Neal and Gozukucuk. Wood darted through a gap but the ball was lost in contact when a try looked on.
However, a powerful drive by the home pack at a Leek scrum earned a penalty which Wood converted with a fine strike for 10-3.
Wood kept his side on top with a long range punt to the bottom corner. From a five metre scrum the ball was moved left then right but the Leek defence held before Burntwood were penalised for side entry at a maul.
With half an hour gone, the visitors retained possession around Burntwood’s 10 metre line making slow progress in the forwards. When the ball was passed wide Wood intercepted to race clean away only to be brought back for an offside decision which McDermott kicked for 10-6.
With the half well into added time, a prolonged Leek attack eventually saw the left winger finish off a move with a try in the corner which went unconverted to leave the hosts trailing by a point.
An early penalty chance for Leek in the second period was wide from long range but after ten minutes they did move further ahead. From a line out in the bottom corner, the ball was moved into midfield and then back right to take advantage of a 3 on 2 for a try which was superbly converted from the touchline.
With Tony Davies and Luke Briggs on for Poole and Mitch Adams, the home side tried to turn the tide but went further behind from a harshly-awarded penalty which was converted for 21-10.
Approaching 70 minutes Burntwood launched their best attack of the half resulting in a stunning try by Wood. Briggs and Neal broke over halfway to feed Wood. He sliced through a gap, chipped over the full back, re-gathered in his stride and raced to the try line. He also added an excellent conversion into the wind from wide out.
Burntwood’s chances of stealing an unlikely win suffered when Morgan went off inured on 75 minutes. Leek looked more threatening but a missed pass to a winger cost them a 3rd try but four minutes into added time they secured their win with a fourth penalty goal.