Burntwood RUFC’s league season started with a bang last September but ended with a whimper away to relegated Wednesbury.
On a heavy pitch which suited their heavy line-up, the hosts were determined to end a disappointing campaign on a high and they achieved it against opposition for whom the season seemed to last a game too long.
An explanation for Burntwood’s lacklustre performance may be that they only secured their own place in next season’s M3WN a couple of games ago so they had little left to play for, but even so there was little for the visiting support to enthuse about on a cold afternoon.
The pattern was set in the opening ten minutes as the home forwards tested the visitors’ defence with close quarter pick and go’s. They finally worked an overlap for a try near the right corner which was well converted.
Burntwood gradually worked their way into the game but not before the home forwards threatened again only to lose possession close to the try line.
Aza Dunet had a shot at goal after 28 minutes but his penalty attempt was just left of the target. Ten minutes later he kicked another penalty award to the right corner to set up a line out catch and drive which was finished off by Josh Canning. Dunet’s conversion attempt struck a post and stayed out but Burntwood seemed to have overcome their lethargic start to the contest to trail just by 7-5 at the break.
However, Wednesbury now had the slope advantage for the second period and they quickly had Burntwood pinned in their own 22.
A penalty chance given for offside went right of the posts in the 48th minute but three minutes later the hosts extended their lead in similar fashion to their first try with big forwards driving round the fringes to eventually barge over.
A series of penalty awards helped Burntwood move upfield with Dunet finding some good touch kicks. However, a crooked line out throw and then an infringement cost his side field position and the chance of a score.
As play entered the last ten minutes, Canning and Brad Holmes took play from one 22 to the other but the hosts cleared before sealing the outcome with three minutes left.
A penalty kick rebounded off a post to keep the pressure on the Burntwood defence. They managed to stop a catch and drive at a line out but only at the expense of another penalty. A quick tap sent the ball right and then back left for a big forward to go over in the corner. A fine conversion made it 19-5.
Burntwood had the chance of a consolation score close to the final whistle, helped again by two penalty awards. Both times they opted for catch and drives but they lost possession on the second one and it was game over.
The season may be over for Burntwood but there is still rugby action at The Sportsway this Saturday as the club plays host to the Staffordshire Rugby Union Cup Finals Day. The County Colts Cup Final will open proceedings at 1pm with Stafford attempting to take the trophy off current holders Wolverhampton. This is followed by the Staffs Senior Cup Final at 3pm when Lichfield bid to deny Burton back to back wins. Spectators are welcome to attend and admission is free, although there will be fundraising activity to support the work of St Giles Hospice.