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Moseley Oak RUFC 13 Burntwood RUFC 14

The power of the pack came to Burntwood’s rescue when it looked like their winning run in the league was coming to an end.

Trailing by 13 points early in the second half, they scrummaged their way to two tries, both converted by Matt Wood to preserve the only unbeaten record in the division.

Newcastle had briefly gone top in midweek when they were awarded the points from their abandoned match at Bishop’s Castle but then a surprising loss at home to Eccleshall leaves Burntwood two points clear at the top.

The match took place on Moseley RFC’s main pitch which was in superb condition with Graham Shelley’s men having the slope advantage in the first period. Wood had an early penalty kick from long range but his effort fell just short of the posts.

A youthful Moseley Oak line-up had Burntwood pinned in their own half for much of the opening quarter, Burntwood’s cause not helped by conceding a series of penalties.

The visitors began to make their mark on the game with 24 minutes gone. Their first attack was started by skipper Shelley with Ben Holt and Mitch Adams in support to take play into Moseley territory.

Four minutes later, the home pack were in trouble at a scrum on the Burntwood 10 metre line which allowed Lloyd Shelley to break to the home 22. A scrum taken against the put in set Halil Gozukucuk driving forward but when the ball was moved wide an overlap was wasted with a misplaced pass.

The hosts hit back and good handling in the backs sent their left winger away past two defenders but he couldn’t beat Wood just five metres out.

However, on 38 minutes Moseley Oak went ahead, taking line out possession through two mauls before a forward drove round the fringes for a converted try.

Wood was unlucky with a penalty chance which hit a post and rebounded to safety but five minutes into added time, the home kicker was more successful to put his side 10 points ahead going into the break.

Burntwood continued to give penalties away at the start of the second half, one of which was converted and it looked as if it was going to be one of those days for the visitors.

Determined to preserve their proud record, the pack turned on the pressure, forcing a series of scrums in the home 22. A six minute period ended with the visitors being awarded a penalty try as the home scrum buckled again and Wood converted.

On 55 minutes Adams was sent racing down the right wing from more good scrummage ball but the last defender forced him into touch.

Both sides continued to fall foul of the referee but it was via a penalty gained that Burntwood managed the crucial score after 58 minutes.

The ball was kicked to the corner. Shelley won possession to set up a series of drives infield to the posts. They earned a scrum and it was almost a formality when Graham Shelley touched down after another surge forward.

Even so, there were still over 20 minutes to go to decide the outcome.

Wood threatened the home line with a break over halfway and a chip ahead only for an unfortunate bounce to go against him.

Then it was Moseley Oak who went close with five minutes left. A hurried clearance kick was run back at the visitors’ line but Matt Sishton managed to hold up an attacker in the act of scoring and the danger was cleared at the following scrum.

Burntwood were forced to defend going into the closing minutes. All their good work looked like being undone when a hand in a ruck cost them a kick at goal. The home kicker struck the ball well but it just slid right of the posts.

The visitors were relieved to clear their lines and take play to midfield to see out the remaining time, happy to have overcome their toughest test so far in the league this season.

With no league fixture this Saturday (November 27), titleholders Burntwood welcome Uttoxeter to The Sportsway for the semi-final of the Staffs Intermediate Trophy – kick off 2.15 pm. The 2nds are TBA and the 3rds are having a week off.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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