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Newcastle (Staffs) RUFC 3 Burntwood RUFC 9

A game featuring just four penalty goals doesn’t sound too exciting but both sides threw everything they had at each other to produce a contest full of spirit and ambition despite the sticky underfoot conditions.

The set pieces were evenly-fought and two tight defences were rarely broken but Burntwood deserved the win for their ability to control phases of play, particularly in the second half in which their discipline was commendable.

The first meaningful attack of the game was by the visitors. Ollie Whitehouse’s break down the blindside of a scrum on halfway was supported by Matt Bray, Graham Shelley and Tom Restall to take play into the home 22.

The final pass was forward but when Newcastle infringed at the ensuing scrum, Matt Wood has his first kick at goal. It proved his only miss of the afternoon, slipping narrowly left of the posts.

Most of the first quarter was played in the home half but Burntwood’s enterprising play was only rewarded with a Wood penalty infront of the posts after 19 minutes.

Newcastle gradually turned the tide and a good attack brought them a penalty to level the scores on the half hour mark.

However, from the restart, an infringement gave Wood a 35 metre shot at goal and he took it to restore the slender lead.

Back came the home side. They went close with a move off the front of a line out which was just bundled into touch in goal. A series of solid clearance kicks to touch preserved the lead up to half time.

With 10 minutes of the second period gone, skipper Shelley, who was having a fine game along with back row colleagues Lloyd Shelley and Tom Restall, forced a turnover as Newcastle tried to run out of defence. Another penalty followed and Wood was on target again for 9-3.

Five minutes later Burntwood’s defence was put to the test from a line out. They proved rock solid and were able to break out courtesy of Sam Wanty’s punt downfield.

It set up a good spell of pressure by the visitors. Ben Holt, Bray and Whitehouse linked well to take play into the home 22. Wood almost made the line but his pass to Matt Sishton was intercepted.

The Burntwood forwards then stole a Newcastle scrum. Wood received possession and chipped through to the line but the threat ended with a penalty to the home side.

Newcastle were pinned in their own half until the last five minutes. They had one last chance to get in front with a penalty kick to touch in the visitors’ 22. When the ball was moved to midfield, the Burntwood defence were up quickly again to force an error.

The forwards then wound the clock down with a disciplined series of short drives to retain the ball until the final whistle.

This Saturday (November 5) Burntwood entertain bottom of the table Old Yardleians, while the following morning sees thethe U16s host Newcastle and the U14s away at Tamworth.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.