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Wolverhampton RUFC 10 Burntwood RUFC 43

Having scored six tries at Pershore in a friendly game, Burntwood went one better in their opening match in their defence of the Lewis Taylor Trophy at Castlecroft.

The Staffs Intermediate Trophy holders found themselves 10 points down after 26 minutes of their quarter-final clash but rallied superbly to romp home with seven tries, the last three all scored by flanker Lloyd Shelley.

A lengthy, busy, pre-reason campaign should have seen Burntwood hit the ground running but an early injury to lock forward Dave Peplow required replacement Hal Gozukucuk to enter the field after just six minutes.

Both sides probed for openings in the first 15 minutes. The first penalty chance went to Burntwood’s Matt Wood but he miscued his long range effort. Then the hosts got in behind the visitors’ defence but the scoring pass was batted down. From the ensuing scrum, Wolverhampton won a penalty which their scrum half quickly tapped to himself to cross by the posts for an easily converted try.

Encouraged by this opening score, the hosts camped in the visitors’ half, retaining possession well to earn a penalty given for offside in the backs. A successful kick from the 22 line made it 10-0.

The Burntwood fightback began three minutes later. They were awarded a penalty just inside their own half which skipper Graham Shelley tapped to himself and set off on a charge downfield. Closed down in the home 22, he passed outside to Mitch Adams who then popped back inside for Matt Cummins to feed Ollie Whitehouse for a fine try.

The hosts were now forced to play on the back foot as they were hounded by the holders. Craig Seedhouse gave his side good field position in the home 22. They won a scrum, drove into midfield under the posts with Matt Sishton and Ian Mapp going close before working the ball out to the left for John Haire to find Wood with the scoring pass to level the scores. Wood’s touchline conversion attempt hit a post and stayed out.

Wood was almost in again before the break but was forced into touch close to the left corner flag as Burntwood showed a refreshing desire to keep the ball alive whatever the field position.

Wolverhampton had the better of the play early in the second period, helped by Burntwood conceding penalties. Two attempts at goal slipped either side of the posts within ten minutes.

A fine tackle by Sishton eventually forced a turnover and Ben Holt’s long touchfinder turned the tide decisively.

Wolverhampton were penalised at a scrum in their own 22. Skipper Shelley tapped and went. His dummied pass to his brother was bought by the home defence and he went over the line near the posts. Wood converted.

Wood had the chance to extend the lead following the restart. He struck a penalty kick well but it was just left of the target. However, this was quickly forgotten 2 minutes later.

Gozukucuk collected the drop out to set his backs in motion. A long pass by G. Shelley found Haire who fed winger Sishton. With half of W’ton closing him down he managed to fend off several tacklers for a try in the corner which Wood superbly converted.

A scrum taken against the feed led to the first of Shelley’s hat trick after 66 minutes. Sishton, G Shelley and Gozukucuk broke through the first line of defence to feed the backs. Adams was stopped but he slipped the ball to L Shelley to touch down. Wood now had his eye in and converted again from wide out.

The hosts found themselves pinned in their own 22 going into the last ten minutes. When they tried to break out Adams intercepted and in the blink of an eye, he fed Gozukucuk who put Shelley clean through for his second. Wood converted.

Burntwood added their last try right on the final whistle. Whitehouse seized on an overthrown home line out to launch the attack. Gozukucuk, James Langford and Sishton were up in support and when the ball was moved wide, there was Shelley to dummy a three man overlap for his hat trick and the final points of an enjoyable afternoon.

Burntwood will hope to maintain this early season form when they open their league campaign with a trip to Telford Hornets this Saturday (September 11), kick off 3pm.  The 2nds are TBA and the 3rds are at Burton.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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