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Burntwood RUFC stay top after bonus point win against Eccleshall

Burntwood RUFC didn’t have things all their own way at home to Eccleshall, particularly during the second quarter, but they still managed a bonus point win to retain their place at the top of the table.

The result leaves them as just one of two undefeated sides in the division.

On the first wet and breezy match day of the season it was perhaps no surprise that four of the hosts’ five tries came from forwards, or to be more precise, two of them, namely Danny Poole and Luke Rookyard.

The first was set up by skipper Ian Jones after seven minutes. He collected a visitors’ clearance kick and chipped it towards the right corner. He chased and recovered possession to send his forwards rucking towards the try line for Poole to score. Will Peach made it 7-0 with the conversion.

The hosts were almost in again six minutes later after stealing an Eccleshall scrum. They worked the ball left but winger James Langford couldn’t take the final pass.

Burntwood remained in visitors’ territory for much of the opening quarter and began to put some continuity into their play. Josh Bayliss and Ben Holt set up a promising position but the forwards were penalised for not releasing.

However, with 21 minutes gone, the ball was moved wide and Poole exchanged passes with Matt Sishton which left the former with a free run to the line. Peach converted.

A series of injuries to Eccleshall players seemed to strengthen their line up rather than weaken it and they went on to dominate play up until the break.

A penalty goal attempt was lost by them when the ball toppled off the tee as the kicker approached it. Then Jack Neal had to be quick to chase back and drop on a ball pursued by two attacking players.

The visitors’ promising play was rewarded when a change of pace and diagonal run took an Eccleshall player under the posts for a converted try.

The visitors’ bigger players were now forcing holes in the home defence. Burntwood’s cause was not helped when replacement Graham Shelley was the unlucky recipient of a yellow card following a series of team infringements.

It didn’t take long for Eccleshall to capitalise by forcing their way over in the corner after 36 minutes.

With the half time whistle due, Eccleshall went close to taking the lead but Nick Peplow managed to steal the ball in the tackle and Peach cleared.

Then five minutes into added time, the same two players combined in attack when Peplow chased Peach’s kick ahead to put the catcher in trouble. A scrum resulted but Eccleshall stole the put-in and cleared to close the first half at 14-12.

Shelley’s return to action at the start of the second period was highlighted when he and Corey Douglas featured in a forwards’ drive through centre field two minutes in. When the ball reached Holt he accelerated through a gap for a try near the right corner flag.

Both sides enjoyed periods of continuity despite the unhelpful weather conditions but both sides also defended well to prevent any further scores until the hour mark when Shelley took a hand in proceedings again.

His drive from a tapped penalty towards the posts brought another Eccleshall infringement. Neal tapped the ball to Rookyard and he crashed over the line for the bonus point try.

Peach missed the conversion but still increased the lead with a penalty goal after 70 minutes for 27-12.

Five minutes later an early hit on Peplow before he received the ball resulted in another penalty. Rookyard was again the beneficiary when the ball was tapped and spun wide for him to touch down.

Eccleshall came back and put themselves in with the chance of a try bonus point of their own when a forward broke through to score close to full time but that proved to be the final score.

Burntwood turn their attention to cup matters this week with the visit of Kings Norton for a Second Round tie in the RFU Senior Vase competition. Fixtures for the A XV and Development Squad are TBA.

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