Burntwood RUFC frustrated on the road at Clee Hill

Burntwood RUFC endured a frustrating trip into deepest Shropshire for their latest league fixture at Clee Hill.

They overcame a one-sided first half which went in favour of the hosts to look favourites for the win at one stage but a series of missed penalty attempts and a late home try saw them return pointless.

Matt Sishton is tackled. Pic: Joanne Gough

Matt Sishton is tackled. Pic: Joanne Gough

The host forwards dominated the set pieces from the off. A series of pick and goes earned them good field position and a scrum five metres out. Burntwood infringed and the hosts elected to go for the line out catch and drive which brought the first try after just four minutes.

The visitors hit back seven minutes later after stealing possession in midfield. The ball was set up via a ruck and moved to skipper Ben Holt on the left. His chip through was followed up by Owen Rookyard for the touch down and conversion and a two point lead.

This proved to be a rare excursion into home territory. With space at a premium, Clee Hill’s pack of forwards were always going to be a threat once they were in the visitors’ 22.

They went close from one catch and drive after 15 minutes before going back into the lead six minutes later courtesy of another catch and drive from a penalty award. The one bright spot for the visitors was that the home kicker missed with the conversion and was then off target from a penalty attempt from infront of the posts on 28 minutes so the home dominance was not fully reflected on the scoreboard.

In fact, Burntwood’s second visit to the home 22 in the 35th minute almost led to them reducing the deficit. Rookyard and Neil Holden were prominent in two attacks but the home defence held to keep their slender 10-7 lead at the break.

Burntwood re-organised their pack for the second period although the change didn’t bring immediate results as an error from the kick off put them back under pressure. They managed to hold up two close range scrums from attempted pushovers but the lively scrum half nipped round the blind side for a try in the corner.

Rookyard pulled a penalty goal attempt left of the posts on 49 minutes but from this point on Burntwood turned the tide.
From the restart Luke Rookyard and Holden again were prominent in retaining field position to launch a sweeping attack left and then back right for winger Rob Jones to cross unopposed in the corner to narrow the deficit to three points.

Penalty awards were now going the way of the visitors to keep play in the home half but some rather frantic attacks didn’t always take the right option.

Clee Hill broke out at one stage but Sean Brennan’s superb turnover tackle set Ian Jones and Jack Dace running back into the home half. They earned a penalty but Holt’s attempt to bring the scores level, though on target, fell short.

From the restart good handling almost created enough space for Holden to show his paces but he was tackled into touch.

However, another penalty was awarded for an earlier offence. Owen Rookyard’s kick had the distance but was off target.

With five minutes of normal time left, Clee Hill benefited from a series of Burntwood errors to clinch the win. The first came from a restart kick which was knocked on. The scrum half broke up to the Burntwood 22 and won a penalty. The catch and drive line out was held up only for the visitors to be penalised at the ensuing scrum. This time the hosts went for the scrum and as the Burntwood pack crumpled the referee awarded a penalty try which was converted.

With time almost up, a determined attack looked to salvage a losing bonus point. Firstly, the forwards were held up close to the line and then when a loose clearance kick was returned to earn another penalty, Rookyard’s kick at goal slid agonisingly left of the posts to herald the final whistle.

The colts also made a long fruitless trip into Shropshire on Sunday when they lost out to Church Stretton 23-10. There was better news for Burntwood 2nds who won away to Walsall 3rds in a merit able fixture on Saturday.

There are no league or cup games this Saturday, the day having been left free for rugby clubs to enjoy the final of the Rugby World Cup, so league action resumes on November 7 with Cleobury Mortimer the visitors to The Sportsway, while the Shropshire theme continues with the 2nds away to Shrewsbury 2nds. Kick off times now revert to 2.15pm.