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Burntwood RUFC lose out against promotion-chasing Handsworth

Burntwood RUFC’s 46-16 defeat result keeps Handsworth very much in the race for promotion and all but extinguished any hopes the visitors have of playing level seven rugby next season.

With the slope and wind advantage in their favour for the opening half on the university pitch the visitors led 16-8 at the break but they were blown away in the second period, particularly in the last quarter when they conceded four converted tries.

The wind and slope were contributary factors in dictating play but it was the powerful play of the home forwards which was the real difference. They were dominant as a unit in the scrums and the prop forwards and No 8 frequently broke the gain line in open play especially after the turnaround.

After the initial midfield jousting, Will Peach put his side in good position with a punt to touch following a home infringement. With the line out won, the three quarters made progress only for Handsworth to transgress again and Peach opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty.

He also put in an excellent touch-finder from the restart which led to a scrum infront of the home posts. However, with just 12 minutes gone Burntwood were driven off the ball for the second time in the match and the danger was cleared.

The visitors were further hindered when Lloyd Shelley was shown a yellow card for over-enthusiastic footwork two minutes later. It only took the home side a minute to level the scores with a penalty given against Burntwood for side entry to a maul.

Peach slid a penalty kick right of the posts from the restart but put his side back into the lead on 19 minutes with another attempt.

A good kick return initiated by skipper Ian Jones and winger Aza Dunet kept Handsworth deep in their own half. Slick passing released Ben Holt on a run before passing to Nick Peplow but the winger was well-tackled by the full back to prevent a score.

Peach was right of the target with a long range penalty kick on 26 minutes which proved even more costly when his side knocked on the deep restart kick to give the home side a scrum on halfway. They worked the blind side and the right winger escaped three tackles to scoot down the touchline for a try to put Handsworth ahead.

With the half almost at an end, Burntwood finally gave themselves a lead to take into the second half. Jones and Peplow started a move carried on by backs then forwards who drove close enough for Shelley to burrow over for a try. Peach struck a fine conversion and them added a penalty before the half time whistle, awarded for foul play on hooker Luke Rookyard which also cost the home side a yellow card.

Despite being a man down, the hosts were soon deep in visitors’ territory. A tapped penalty was moved left for a prop forward to prove unstoppable, going in for an easily converted try under the posts.

To their credit Buntwood hit back with an excellent attack. They kept possession well, moving the ball left, right and then left again in a move which was halted illegally and Handsworth found themselves with another player in the sin bin.

The resulting penalty was tapped to feed the backs but with a clear overlap the final pass was spilled.

With one player back from the bin, the hosts went ahead with a penalty goal after 55 minutes and then when fully restored to 15 the rest of the contest was all theirs. However, Burntwood’s cause was not helped when they lost their second front row player to injury, Rookyard joining Tony Davies on the touchline and the scrums became uncontested with nearly an hour gone.

Handsworth, having spilled a couple of try scoring opportunities with dropped passes, pulled away when the outside centre made a break between the centres and dummied full back Taylor for a fine individual try.

A catch and drive paved the way for the home No 8 to clinch the bonus point try before the tight head prop moved to back row for an uncontested scrum and he swept round for a try under the posts.

In the final play of the match the Handsworth hooker broke through centre field and fed the No 8. The ball was passed right for a stroll behind the posts for the sixth touch down. The successful conversion brought the game to a close.

Burntwood have another away league trip this Saturday (March 1) when they visit Newcastle (Staffs). The A XV welcome Burton 3rds (merit table) and the Development Squad is away to Warley 2nds (merit table).

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