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Match report: Tamworth RUFC 22 Burntwood RUFC 17

Burntwood RUFC go into the last round of league matches with their slender hopes of avoiding the drop still alive.

They reduced the gap to third from bottom Lordswood Dixonians to three points by gaining a losing bonus point at Tamworth.

Unfortunately, the final day fixtures are not favourable with Burntwood away to second placed Old Saltleians whilst Dixonians travel to the already relegated Shrewsbury.

This was a much improved performance and a much closer result than a month earlier when the sides met in the semi-final of the Staffs Senior Cup. They out-scored the hosts by two tries to one this time but the Tamworth kicker scored points from six of eight attempts at goal to take his side home.

The visitors made a determined start to the game which denied the hosts a touch of the ball for the opening six minutes. In that time, Matt Wood had two shots at goal and was successful with the second one to open the scoring.

A silly error by Burntwood in defence at the restart quickly restored parity, the home kicker landing the first of his five penalty goals.

Graham Shelley’s men went on to dominate the opening quarter aided by Tamworth conceding a string of penalties. Their pressure was rewarded in fortuitous circumstances with 15 minutes gone. Wood’s penalty attempt at goal hung in the air to fall just short but the alert Nick Peplow was following up to catch and touch down by the posts all in one movement. Wood’s easy conversion made it 10-3.

Tamworth launched their first serious attack with 20 minutes one. A kick to the right corner led to a catch and drive which the visitors did well to keep out. However, skipper Shelley suffered an ankle injury which handicapped him for the rest of the game.

Seven minutes later and Tamworth threatened again. A good move through midfield set the left winger away but Peplow and Matt Sishton combined well to chase him down.

This was a temporary reprieve as Tamworth won the ensuing line out, caught Burntwood offside and the resulting penalty made it 10-6. It proved to be a double blow for the visitors as hooker Tony Davies was injured and replaced by Jack Neal with Lloyd Shelley moving into the front row but leaving the side without a regular line out thrower.

Burntwood conceded two more needless penalties before the break to undo all their good work and leave them 12-10 down at the turnaround.

However, just like the opening to the first period, Burntwood had the better of the play for 15 minutes of the second half and re-took the lead with another opportunist try, this time by Wood.

He chipped over the onrushing Tamworth players from his own 22 and re-gathered to cross the half way line. Another kick ahead saw him outpace the cover defence for a fine individual try which he also converted.

Burntwood remained in home territory until they missed a crucial follow up tackle after 65 minutes. The Tamworth full back counter attacked from deep inside his 22 to cross the half way line and two passes later the centre was in for a try wide left. The excellent conversion put the hosts back in front.

Just after the hour mark another successful kick, this time a penalty, proved to be the final score of the afternoon to stretch the lead to five points although another kickable effort was missed with ten minutes to go.

With reinforcements on from the Tamworth bench, the Burntwood scrum was put under pressure and they were pinned in their own half. They battled well to deny the hosts another score. They conceded another penalty but the kick sailed left of the target.

Tamworth lost a flanker to a yellow card with time almost up but with Shelley and Wood handicapped by injuries and all replacements already used, Burntwood had to settle for a losing bonus point at the final whistle.

Apart form Burntwood’s trip to Old Salts this Saturday (April 21) the second string travel to Cooke Fields to play Lichfield 3rds. On Sunday morning Burntwood host the U12s County Festival with ten teams competing. The first kick off is scheduled for 10am.

The Burntwood Presentation Evening takes place on May 4 and the club’s AGM is on May 16 – both events take place in their Sportsway clubhouse.

Click to see pictures of the game by Chris Gibson Photography.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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