Winning run continues as Burntwood RUFC beat Clee Hill

Burntwood RUFC maintained their winning start to the new league campaign as they ran in six tries against visitors Clee Hill.

Tom O'Brien spots a gap. Pic: Joanne Gough

Tom O’Brien spots a gap. Pic: Joanne Gough

There was little sign of the try fest to come when the scores were tied at 3-3 after half an hour’s play, but two tries before the break by Luke Rookyard, scored in identical fashion, set the hosts on their way to their third win in three games.

Clee Hill completed the double over Sean Latham’s side last season so a tough test was expected especially given the rainfall for much of the afternoon’s play.

Zak Ranson on the run. Pic: Joanne Gough

Zak Ranson on the run. Pic: Joanne Gough

Burntwood’s early probing earned a penalty goal by Sam Lloyd after seven minutes when the visitors were caught offside in front of their own posts.

Clee Hill’s first venture into home territory three minutes later saw them level the scores with a penalty kicked from 30 metres out.

Dan Garrity featured twice before the first quarter was up, first in attack when Aza Dunet and Ben Holt almost put him away and then in defence when a smart piece of clearance work denied the visitors a threatening position.

The forwards were clearly up for the challenge with prop Jake Ranson prominent in turnover possession as both sides gradually came to terms with the wet conditions.

Most of the play was in the visitors’ half of the field and as the half hour mark approached Neil Holden went close in the left corner after Holt made good ground capitalising on a Clee Hill handling error.

With 32 minutes gone the pressure finally told. A hurried clearance from a backtracking scrum presented the hosts with a close range line out. The catch and drive saw Rookyard burst over the line for a try well converted from wide out by Dunet.

Six minutes later the pattern was repeated – a Rookyard try and a Dunet conversion – to take the half time score to 17-3.

Sean Brennan is tackled. Pic: Joanne Gough

Sean Brennan is tackled. Pic: Joanne Gough

Holt began the second period with a run and kick chase which covered fifty metres but the support players infringed and the position was lost.

Two minutes later the visitors narrowed the deficit when some lacklustre defending allowed a Clee Hill centre go on a diagonal run to feed the right winger who shook off the last defender to score wide out.

This appeared to shake Burntwood into life and good work by skipper Latham, Rookyard and Ranson took play up to the visitors’ five metre line. Clee Hill were penalised at a scrum and Brett Taylor’s quick tap and go took him over the line for a try converted by Lloyd.

Tom O’Brien was held up just short of the line following a patient build up on 56 minutes before the bonus point try was scored on 65 minutes. Good pressure on halfway turned possession over and the ball was kicked deep. The last defender was tackled by Holden as he tried to clear and Taylor was there to drop on the loose ball for his second try. Dunet converted.

Taylor turned provider seven minutes later. O’Brien returned a clearance kick to set up a ruck in the Clee Hill 22. A well-worked move between Taylor and Holt saw the latter celebrate his birthday with a fine try. Lloyd converted.

Having gone close twice earlier, O’Brien concluded affairs with an excellent individual try. Taking a clearance kick on halfway, he ran clean through heavy traffic to touch down. Lloyd’s conversion was the last kick of the game to round off a very satisfying performance.

Burntwood 2nd XV lost out 22-7 in their merit table fixture away to Newcastle (Staffs).

This Saturday Burntwood travel to face Cleobury Mortimer for their first home league game of the season. The 3rd XV are also away with a merit fixture at Uttoxeter 2nds. A week later Burntwood have been drawn away to Mansfield in the 2nd Round of the RFU Midlands Senior Vase competition.