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Tale of two halves sees Burntwood RUFC move up to second place

Burntwood slipped into second place in the table behind Newcastle (Staffs) as the top five places in the division are all occupied by Staffordshire sides at this early stage in the season.

This fixture at Bognop Road proved to be a game of contrasting halves with the visitors building up a 20-3 half time lead before being forced to stage a rearguard action to finish 23-20 as the hosts pressed for much of the second period.

Burntwood’s points’ tally was largely courtesy of Aron Dunet who kicked six penalty goals and was only denied a perfect kicking record on the day when the ball toppled off the tee as he attempted to convert skipper Rob Cartwright’s try.

Despite playing with the wind behind them in the first half, things didn’t start too well for Burntwood when powerful forward Mark Thomas was forced off the field with a rib injury after just five minutes.

However, Dunet was on target shortly afterwards with his first successful kick, splitting the uprights from the home ten metre line.

With ten minutes gone Ben Holt looked to have scored the first try of the afternoon following a midfield break by Hal Gozukucuk. The outside half raced to the corner but his foot scraped the whitewash as he touched down.

Dunet extended Burntwood’s lead with penalties after 14 and 19 minutes, the first one from the halfway line, before the hosts got off the mark with the second of two penalty attempts at goal.

Dunet made it 12-3 after half an hour but it was not until the 38th minute that the visitors scored the try they deserved.

Craig Seedhouse kicked well to the right corner. Willenhall took the line out but a wayward pass from the base of the ruck gave Burntwood a scrum. They won the put in and drove for the line twice before skipper Cartwright squeezed over.

The only other threat to the home line before the break came from a charge down by Gozukucuk. Mark Poole was in support to drive into the home 22 forcing Willenhall to infringe and Dunet made it 20-3 with his easiest kick of the day.

The hosts made a determined start to the second half and a brief altercation saw both sides lose a player to the sin bin, Matt Sishton going off for Burntwood. During the full back’s absence, Willenhall went in for a converted try with a neat loop in midfield.

The home side dominated territory but found the visitors’ defence up to the task. Promising positions were also lost due to infringements which allowed Burntwood to gain some respite.

On 65 minutes the visitors worked their way into their opponents’ half and Dunet kicked a vital penalty to put his side two converted tries ahead.

The kick proved crucial as Willenhall laid siege to the Burntwood line, the visitors’ cause not helped when Gozukucuk was side-lined for ten minutes following a high tackle.

Cartwright’s men held out during his absence and he rejoined as Burntwood faced a five metre scrum with play entering added time. They withstood the initial attack but six minutes into extra time the pressure told with a try in the right corner.

Three minutes later Willenhall were in again, this time in the left corner but both conversions were missed.

The hosts had one last attack with the clock ticked past 50 minutes for the second half but they lost possession as they tried to run out of their own half to leave them with a losing bonus point.

This Saturday (October 6) Burntwood host their Sponsors/Patrons Day prior to their home league game against Shrewsbury. There is a pre-match buffet at 2pm with the game kicking off at 3pm.

The 2nd XV are away to Walsall 3rds and the Development XV travel to face Warley 2nds.

The draw for the Second Round of the RFU Senior Vase has taken place and Burntwood have been given a home tie against Belper on October 13.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.