Burntwood RUFC’s winning start to the season came to an abrupt halt away to Cleobury Mortimer.
Three tries down going into the second quarter, they battled back to win their fair share of possession and territory but endured an off day in attack.
In contrast, the hosts soaked up the pressure and hit Burntwood on the break throughout the game to run in seven tries altogether.
A series of penalty awards put the visitors back in their own 22 in the opening ten minutes. The set scrum came under pressure which led to a try from an overlap on 12 minutes.
Two minutes later the hosts ran the ball back from a deep position. Good passing down the right flank and then back inside and across the field produced the second try.
A spell of midfield play was broken on 23 minutes when the home forwards worked their way into the Burntwood 22 which allowed the scrum half to make an inside break for a converted try.
Facing a 17 point deficit so early in the game, Sean Latham’s side needed to reply and they did so four minutes later. Good team play took them into the home 22. An infringement presented a quick tapped penalty to feed winger Dan Garrity who crossed in the corner.
Encouraged by this score, Burntwood had the better of the play for the next ten minutes, working their way steadily into the opposition 22 via close quarter drives. However, when they lost position due to an infringement, a deep kick downfield found no-one at home and Cleobury were able to record their bonus point try.
Right on half time Burntwood almost reduced the arrears with a swift attack instigated by Ben Holt’s break. Garrity and Sam Lloyd were in support but the final pass inside was intercepted and cleared to leave the score 22-5 at the break.
The hosts moved further ahead five minutes into the second period. They had a line out five metres off the home line, achieved via a deep kick and a blatant shirt tug on covering winger Elliot Woolley which went unseen by the referee. The maul was established and then a pass back left led to a try in the corner plus the conversion.
For the next 15 minutes Burntwood dominated possession and territory but misfired at crucial moments. The set scrum improved but the line out, normally a reliable facet of Burntwood’s play, suffered from uncharacteristic errors. The home defence also proved to be tough to breach.
After all their hard work, it summed up Burntwood’s day when Cleobury’s first venture into the opposition half for 15 minutes saw them extend their lead. A kick behind the defensive line was touched down for a try in the corner which was well converted.
Two more line outs in the home 22 proved fruitless before Burntwood finally got one right. Luke Rookyard finished off a set move on 67 minutes for 36-10.
With normal time up, the referee brandished three yellow cards, two for Burntwood and one for the hosts, as Cleobury completed their tally with a converted try under the posts.
Burntwood 2nds/3rds faced Spartans 4ths at The Sportsway and won 22-0.