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Bishop’s Castle & OV RUFC 0 Burntwood RUFC 11

Burntwood RUFC continued their unbeaten start to the season with their fourth win in league and cup – three of them away from home – to take second position in the table behind Newcastle (Staffs).

Graham Shelley’s men have only conceded 20 points in those four games and in truth, their line was rarely threatened in this latest encounter. Their problems were at the other end of the pitch where a succession of handling errors, particularly in the second half, cost them a bigger win.

The visitors made a good start, taking the home kick off and dictating play up to the Bishop’s Castle 22 where the hosts infringed for Matt Wood to put his side three points ahead with a straightforward kick after just three minutes.

Burntwood continued to play in the home half for the next 13 minutes and Wood doubled the lead with a fine penalty goal from the touchline.

Bishop’s Castle hit back, retaining possession well up to the visitors’ line but they infringed and were then marched 10 metres further away for dissent.

Skipper Shelley set his team on the attack following his line out take on 21 minutes. Matt Sishton found full back Wood with a floated pass and he was clear over halfway. He chipped the opposition full back but a covering winger beat him to the touchdown to prevent the try.

The next 15 minutes were largely forgettable after such a promising opening and then the visitors suffered a blow when dangerman Wood was forced off with a back injury. Bishop’s Castle pressed for a score and it needed a series of solid tackles by Sishton to halt the danger.

The hosts lost a centre to the sin bin but in an extended period of added time, neither side came close to a score on the small and heavily grassed playing surface.

The second period began in similar fashion to the first with Burntwood on top. Their first attack inside 2 minutes featured prop forward Mark Poole twice doing the hard yards. When the backs received possession, winger Mitch Adams was forced into touch close to the try line.

This was quickly forgotten just a minute later. The forwards capitalised on their advantage in the set scrums to drive off the back for Hal Gozukucuk to score what proved to be the only try of the afternoon.

Within 10 minutes Burntwood had three promising attacks but each ended with a handling error before Bishop’s Castle finally broke the siege with their first venture into the visitors’ territory.

Burntwood re-shuffled their line-up with Andrew Miles and Jack Neal coming on for Poole and Tom Restall but the frustrations continued with three more missed opportunities going into the last 10 minutes.

With normal time up on the clock, the hosts had the sniff of a bonus point with a penalty kicked to the corner but Graham Shelley stole the line out, Ollie Whitehouse cleared and the match was over.

Burntwood continue their league campaign with the visit of Eccleshall to The Sportsway this Saturday (October 9), kick off 3pm. They have also been drawn to face Worksop at home in the second round of the RFU Senior Vase competition on October 16, kick off 2.30 pm.

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