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Burntwood RUFC 15 Newcastle (Staffs) RUFC 27

David Peplow tries to break a tackle

David Peplow tries to break a tackle. Pic: Joanne Gough

Burntwood’s latest disappointment is hard to explain – they were 10-3 up at half time and seemingly in control but they shipped three long range, converted tries in 17 second half minutes to make it three defeats on the trot.

On a surprisingly firm playing surface, the hosts made a good start, prompted by Matt Wood’s fine touchfinder into the visitors’ 22. They caught and drove the subsequent line out and when the ball was moved to the backs, Newcastle were caught offside and Wood put his side three points ahead after four minutes.

Ten minutes later, after skipper Graham Shelley and Wood had prevented a quick reply by Newcastle, Wood broke into their half and found support from Dave Peplow. He fed the backs and Pete Reynolds exchanged passes with John Haire to run in from the 22. Wood converted.

Again, Newcastle came back strongly with a concerted attack which threatened the home line but Matt Bray hacked a loose ball away to clear the danger.

Ben Holt’s chip through had the visitors pinned on their own line. A short clearance kick allowed Wood to attempt a drop goal but he miscued it.

Encouraging play by the hosts was ended when Newcastle disrupted a Burntwood scrum in midfield. It resulted in a penalty which was easily converted to make it 10-3.

Wood twice had the opportunity to restore the 10 point advantage before the break but despite striking the ball well his penalty attempts slipped either side of the posts.

Burntwood brought Mark Poole on to bolster the scrum ten minutes into the second period. He did his job in helping to provide possession for the home backs on their 10 metre line but the visitors’ No 11 intercepted to race in unopposed to bring the scores level with a converted try.

Graham Shelley on the run for Burntwood RUFC. Pic: Joanne Gough

Graham Shelley on the run for Burntwood RUFC. Pic: Joanne Gough

Burntwood’s play now suffered from handling errors and needless penalties, one of which was kicked to put Newcastle ahead just after the hour mark.

Before Burntwood could regroup, they found themselves trailing by ten points. An infringement at the restart saw the Newcastle scrum half tap and kick long. Hesitation by the home chasers allowed the No. 9 to touch down and then convert.

This dramatic change in fortunes continued four minutes later. Burntwood were in possession on halfway but turned the ball over and the visitors’ No 14 sped away for another converted try.

Faced with scoring 17 points in about even time just to draw, the hosts set about salvaging the game but it was not until the 74th minute that skipper Shelley stretched over from a turned scrum to reduce the deficit.

Winger Dan Garritty had a couple of promising runs as the clock ticked down but Newcastle snuffed out the danger to take the league points.

This Saturday (March 13) Burntwood play a re-arranged league game at home to Veseyans.

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