Burntwood RUFC come out on top in thriller against Ludlow

Burntwood RUFC picked up a victory against Ludlow in what was one of the best games seen at The Sportsway in recent seasons.

In a thrilling encounter, after the hosts had dominated the first half and Ludlow the second, it all came down to the last kick of the game. Up stepped Aza Dunet to convert a penalty award from 40 metres to send the home camp wild.

There were errors by both sides in the opening minutes but Burntwood’s proved more costly. The visitors’ forwards picked and drove close to the home line to earn a penalty which was goaled for 3-0.

Almost immediately, Sam Lloyd cancelled it out with a well-struck penalty after five minutes.

A midfield battle for supremacy was ended when the Ludlow No 3 broke a tackle on the home 10 metre line and, showing a remarkable turn of pace, raced to the clubhouse corner for an unconverted try after 11 minutes.

The rest of the half belonged to the hosts. They had already wasted one good position when they lost possession at their own line out close to the Ludlow try line before they moved ahead in the 16th minute.

From a scrum on the Ludlow 10 metre line, the ball was moved left for Ben Holt to make a clean break. Faced with a two on one against the full back he put Owen Rookyard in for the score which Dunet excellently converted from wide out.

All the play was now in the visitors’ half and both wingers, Rookyard and Dan Garrity, were denied opportunities by missed final passes.

When Ludlow cleared downfield, Tom O’Brien made a great run to keep play deep in opposition territory. He was high tackled and Lloyd punted to the right corner for a line out.

Possession was won and after repeated drives for the line from birthday boy Dave Ward, Pat Bayliss and O’Brien the ball was swiftly passed out to Lloyd who went over in the corner for a try to which he added the touchline conversion on 31 minutes.

It quickly became 22-8 when Bayliss went on the charge from the restart. Garrity supported to take play into the 22. A passing move left seemed to have broken down but it was rescued by O’Brien who took advantage of hesitation in the Ludlow defence to race in for his side’s third try.

The visitors benefited from a penalty award plus ten metres on 35 minutes and chose to go for the line out option. However, the home pack did superbly to hold the drive up and win the turnover.

The last action of the half saw the Ludlow kicker attempt a penalty goal from the home 10 metre line but it fell short and Brett Taylor cleared.

With their 100% winning record in the league on the line, a rejuvenated Ludlow came out for the second period and quickly made inroads into their deficit. After just three minutes the No.3 charged over halfway before putting his speedy scrum half in for a converted try.

As the pressure was maintained, Graham Shelley was yellow carded on 55 minutes and it proved costly just two minutes later. Another big forward made a break to feed his scrum half again for a carbon copy of the previous try. The successful conversion levelled the scores and the hosts seemed to have lost the opportunity to be the first side in the league to lower Ludlow’s colours this season.

The league leaders went ahead with a penalty goal before Shelley returned to the field. However, he soon made an impact by winning line out possession and then going on the charge into the Ludlow half. The ball was moved left for Holt to feed Rookyard who danced down the touchline for the bonus point try in the clubhouse corner to make it 27-25 with ten minutes left.

Five minutes later, having slid one penalty attempt wide, the Ludlow kicker landed his next kick to give his side a one point lead. The penalty offence also saw Lloyd yellow carded and Burntwood’s hopes of the win looked slim.

However, they mounted one last drive by the forwards to take play to the Ludlow 10 metre line where they were awarded a penalty and Dunet kept his nerve to secure a famous win for his side.

Burntwood 2nds experienced an unusual ending to their game at Gnosall. Despite trailing 21-19, the result of this friendly fixture was declared a draw when the referee sustained a leg injury to end the contest prematurely.

This Saturday Burntwood host Newcastle (Staffs) in the semi-final of the Staffs Intermediate Cup with the winners progressing to meet Handsworth in the final. Other fixtures are TBA.