After a typically hard-fought local derby, Burntwood RUFC sealed the win against Cannock with a late try to stay second in the table.
The hosts had the better of territory and possession for long periods in the game but a combination of tough tackling opposition and errors at crucial moments following the two week lay-off kept the result in the balance until the end.
Sean Latham’s side had the ideal start with a try inside two minutes. Brett Taylor’s box kick crossed the try line but with the Cannock full back waiting for the ball to run dead, Neil Holden was up quickly to slide in and touch down in the left corner.
A penalty award from the restart gave Cannock the chance of an early reply but the kick at goal was wide from 30 metres.
However, the visitors took the lead on 14 minutes with a converted try begun in their own 22. The big right winger set off on a crossfield run, shrugging off two Burntwood tacklers. When finally closed down, he passed inside for the outside centre to score by the posts.
Burntwood responded well to this setback with a series of probing attacks on and around the Cannock 22 but it was not until time added on that they threatened the visitors’ try line.
First Sam Lloyd chipped over the resolute Cannock defence but the bounce just eluded him. Then, following a close range line out, the ball was moved right then back left only for the final pass to go to ground with the try line begging.
There was some reward right on the half time whistle when Lloyd landed a penalty from 25 metres out on the left with an excellent strike.
The hosts remained on top early in the second period. Taylor put his side in good field position with a fine box kick. Cannock pulled the resulting line out down which cost them a penalty and a player in the sin bin.
Scrambling defence denied the hosts at a close range line out and scrum. When Lloyd kicked wide for Billy Fisher, the ball was just out of range for the winger to take.
Burntwood finally made their pressure tell on 53 minutes. Holden collected a Cannock kick out of defence 25 metres out. His darting run set up a drive by the forwards and Taylor slipped a pass to Adam Black who went clean through to the posts for a try converted by Lloyd to make it 15-7.
Approaching the last ten minutes Cannock showed that they weren’t finished. Presented with a penalty plus another ten metres, their forwards began a drive from their own 22 to the Burntwood 22. They earned a close range line out which they took and drove over with the help of several back players. A great conversion kick made it a one point game.
The decisive moment came with normal time almost up. Cannock won a line out on halfway. The ball was moved wide but a kick downfield was charged down and Ben Holt booted the ball towards the unguarded posts. A final tap over the line and he was able to touch down to the relief of the home camp.
The conversion was missed but Cannock were fortunate not to have the kick taken again following an early charge.
The hosts were able to see out the remaining four minutes, helped by a good run from replacement Brad Holmes who took play back into the Cannock half. Lloyd kicked for a line out in the visitors’ 22 but the chance of an unlikely try bonus point went when possession was lost.
An understrength 2nd team travelled to face Leek 2nds and lost out 38-14.
Burntwood resume league action on 21st January with the long trip to Clee Hill. This Saturday the 1sts are TBA, the 2nds host St Leonards and the 3rds are away to Bloxwich 2nds.