Burntwood RUFC brought back to earth with a bump by Willenhall

After two comfortably won league games, Burntwood RUFC tasted defeat against a robust and physical Willenhall side.

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

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

Both sides had a fair amount of possession during this encounter, but the visitors were far more clinical both in attack and defence.

Burntwood started the livelier and as early as the second minute Owen Rookyard was having a penalty attempt at goal which went wide of the uprights. Shortly afterwards, another penalty resulted in a kick into the corner for a lineout which failed to give the hosts momentum.

Early on both defences were on top with some vigorous tackling. After 15 minutes the home side had a series of slick handling moves and pressured Willenhall but they held firm.

The visitors then upped their work rate and kicked into the 22 and with a series of rucks and rolling mauls they got the ball to the try line only for it to be held up. But referee Paul Daniels gave a penalty to Willenhall which was converted.

From the restart the Burntwood forwards rallied but they were giving penalties away far too frequently to let their opponents off the hook.

After 25 minutes the Willenhall centre was yellow carded, but this had little impact on the game as they kept pressing and on 30 minutes doubled the lead to six points with a drop goal.

The away side kicked another penalty before Tom O’Brien sprinted out of defence and won a penalty which Rookyard converted to make the half time score 3–9.

Willenhall started the second period as they had controlled the first and it was only their own carelessness that stopped them increasing the lead early on.

The home side rallied though and had some good phases of play of their own, stretching Willenhall from left to right but handling errors at crucial times proved costly.

As the game reached the last quarter Burntwood were giving frequent penalties away making life far too easy for the away team. Willenhall made best use of this and kicked the ball deep into the corner and the lineout resulted in an easy try.

Continued pressure resulted in a yellow card for Dave Ward, and with the home side stretched, Willenhall powered over the line for two more tries and a penalty to make the final score 3–33.