Burntwood RUFC slip down the table after Eccleshall defeat

Burntwood RUFC have been left looking nervously over their shouldsers after a 20-8 defeat against Eccleshall came as other results went against them.

Ben Holt’s side slipped from seventh to ninth in the table with five games left to play.

Alan Mapp tries to wriggle out of a challenge. Pic: Joanne Gough

Alan Mapp tries to wriggle out of a challenge. Pic: Joanne Gough

A patched-up team missing five regulars should still have been good enough to provide a much needed win against Eccleshall, one of the sides still below them, but they were their own worst enemies, particularly in the second half, as they conceded a string of penalties.

With wind and rain in their favour in the first half, Eccleshall dominated territory. They could have been ahead as early as the second minute but a kickable penalty attempt was miscued left of the posts.

Eight minutes later the visitors kicked a penalty award to the clubhouse corner, won the line out and fed their backs but the danger was averted when they were caught accidentally offside.

Ian Jones makes a tackle. Pic: Joanne Gough

Ian Jones makes a tackle. Pic: Joanne Gough

A rare Burntwood attack into the opposition half was led by Daryll Organ. His strong run across halfway resulted in a penalty goal attempt by Aza Dunet but his effort into the strong wind went left of the target.

With 20 minutes gone, the hosts were forced into a change in the front row when Tony Davies was forced off with a knee injury to be replaced by Zak Shingler.

Ten minutes later the Eccleshall kicker attempted a long range penalty from near halfway but the effort was short and left so the game remained scoreless.

This changed after 35 minutes. Front row players Shingler and Dave Ward were both injured in a collision. With the former leaving the field for treatment Burntwood had to reorganise but facing a scrum they lost their own put-in five metres out and Iain West stretched over to open the scoring with a try which was converted.

With the half time whistle due, sloppy defence 25 metres out allowed Eccleshall in for their second try to leave Burntwood with a 12 point deficit at the turnaround.

With Shingler back on the field, his side needed an early score and they got it just two minutes into the second period. Line out possession was moved right and left in a sustained attack which was finished off by winger Rob Jones for a try in the clubhouse corner.

Play was confined to midfield for a spell which was broken when Dunet landed a penalty goal after 56 minutes.

Three minutes later the hosts almost took the lead from a penalty award plus ten metres. Ward led a pick and drive for the line but was stopped just short.

Daryll Organ bursts through a challenge. Pic: Joanne Gough

Daryll Organ bursts through a challenge. Pic: Joanne Gough

It was at this point that Burntwood fell foul of the referee. Penalty after penalty allowed Eccleshall to relieve the pressure, work their way into home territory and finish with a successful shot at goal to make it 8-15.

Moving into the last ten minutes, play ebbed and flowed. First Ian Jones and Dave Yardley led a charge deep into the Eccleshall half then West broke away from the ensuing scrum to take play back upfield.

A good return kick provided good field position for Burntwood but the opportunity was lost to another penalty given against them.

The visitors sealed their win with a try in the last minute of normal time and it came from another penalty award. A breakaway up to the home 22 was forced into touch but Burntwood infringed at the resulting line out catch and drive. Eccleshall kicked to the right corner and caught and drove over for the final score.

Burntwood almost earned a losing bonus point with a last ditch attack but it ended with a dropped pass which heralded the full time whistle.

With no league or merit table fixtures arranged for this weekend, matches for the seniors and colts are TBA.