Burntwood RUFC’s bright start to the season continued with a 31-25 victory at local rivals Cannock.
The visitors looked brightest in the opening exchanges, with a scrum on the home 10 metre line and a powerful drive resulting in a back row infringement and a penalty which was confidently converted by Sam Lloyd for an early lead.
Playing with confidence, Burntwood combined with some useful penetrating rucks from the forwards and swift hands from the backs and on eight minutes a sweeping move from left to right resulted in a try by Owen Rookyard under the posts, which was converted by Lloyd for a 10 point lead.
But the hosts were always likely to pose a threat and with a quarter of an hour on the clock they opened their account and a scrum on their own 22 that was going backwards until the number 8 collected the ball and fed the backline for a powerful burst from the full back to break away and score an unconverted try.
The try gave Cannock confidence and they went over again just after the half-hour mark when the centre burst through some weak tackling before offloading. A conversion nudged the home side 12-10 in front.
A double change from Burntwood saw the introduction of Luke Rookyard and Josh Canning and the impact was immediate. A series of interchanges between forwards and backs stretched the home defence and from a clearance skipper Sean Latham collected and burst through a series of tackles to allow Rookyard to run from the halfway before offloading a metre out for winger Rob Jones to go over. The conversion attempt hit the outside of the upright, sending Burntwood in at the break 15-12 up.
Three more changes at the break saw Aaron Dune’t entering the fray along with the reintroduction of Sean Brennan and Ian Jones.
A scrappy opening to the second period saw both sides collect a penalty, before another Burntwood penalty created another chance. A kick to the five metre line seemed a sensible option because the visitors had dominated the set piece play for most of the afternoon. Luke Rookyard was quick to latch on to the ball and power over the line for a try which Dune’t attempted to convert but just failed from the touchline.
With both sides trying to gain the upper hand in the second half the away team certainly upped the pressure in defence and the first tackles kept Cannock at bay. It was a penalty from distance which allowed the hosts the chance to stay within reach of Burntwood at 23-18.
But the visitors were always staying one step ahead Cannock’s cause wasn’t helped when the scrum half saw yellow after a disagreement with the referee.
Burntwood made a period of pressure count on 65 minutes when a burst from Neil Holden on the left Pat Bayliss to burrow his way through the home forwards. A quick offload to Owen Rookyard saw him dance through for the bonus point fourth try. The conversion was missed but from the kick off another penalty for the the visitors made the score 31-18.
The away side showed maturity in the closing stages to control possession and thwart any hopes of a comeback, with Cannock only managing to add to their tally in the dying moments with a late try.
Burntwood will be hoping their run of victories will continue in the next game when they entertain Shropshire outfit Clee Hill on the October 1. This coming Saturday, they are in the fixture pool for a game as they have a bye in the national cup.
The 2nd XV also continued winning ways with an excellent 20-7 win over Leek 2nd XV at The Chasetown Civil Engineering Sportsway. The 2nd XV are also in the fixture pool this weekend with the 3rd XV entertaining Birmingham Ba Ba’s.