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Defeat at Clee Hill brings Burntwood RUFC’s winning streak to an end

Burntwood RUFC endured a frustrating afternoon in deepest Shropshire as their eight game winning streak came to an end.

This was their third attempt in three seasons to win at Clee Hill but, like the rest, they struggled to adapt to the small pitch plus the tenacious play of the hosts as they try to pull away from the relegation spots.

The match featured almost as many cards as points although it was by no means unpleasant – more a case of the new tackle laws making an impact.

The first 15 minutes belonged to Clee Hill. They should have taken the lead but failed to convert three penalty attempts at goal. The final award saw prop Adam Black yellow carded for a high tackle after the referee had already warned both sides for similar offences.

Having weathered this initial period, Burntwood broke out and should have scored a try in their first attack. Brett Taylor’s punt upfield was fumbled and Billy Fisher was there to collect.

He ran 40 metres towards the posts only to be dragged down just short. A home player prevented release which saw him sin binned and Sam Lloyd landed the easy penalty goal, the only successful kick by either team all game.

Sean Latham’s side were now getting into their stride but promising runs by Ben Holt and Luke Rookyard couldn’t be sustained. When Burntwood got close to the home line courtesy of a couple of penalty awards, they conceded penalties of their own to lose field position.

Clee Hill responded with a series of close range drives at the visitors’ try line which were well defended before one of the few quality moments came on 38 minutes. Centres Holt and Owen Rookyard combined well to take play into the opposition half but Dan Garrity couldn’t take the final pass.

Taylor and Fisher kept play in the Clee Hill half to earn a penalty but Lloyd’s kick at goal fell short to end the half.

Burntwood began the second period like Clee Hill had begun the first with pressure in their opponents’ 22 but a defensive error let the hosts score a gift try on 47 minutes. Taylor fielded a deep clearance kick in his own half but his attempted pass to Garrity was dropped and there was the home centre to collect and cross the line unopposed.

Lloyd tried to re-take the lead shortly afterwards with a long range penalty which fell short of the target.

On 55 minutes Burntwood stole possession at a Clee Hill line out and drove 15 metres. The hosts were penalised and Lloyd kicked to the left corner for a close range line out. The ball was won and moved infield to earn another penalty but Lloyd’s kick at goal rebounded off a post.

Seven minutes later Black received a second yellow card for an offence at a scrum then Clee Hill went down to 14 with a red card given for a dangerous charge.

The hosts ended a fraught spell of play with a kick to the clubhouse corner. A series of close range drives finally saw the right winger go over for the second try much to the joy of watching Ludlow players whose game at Edwardians had been called off.

Clee Hill then lost another player, this time to a to a yellow card, for a trip on Taylor and then with time almost up they went down to 12 when they had a player red carded for a tip tackle on Luke Rookyard.

The visitors had two opportunities to salvage a draw in time added on with penalty awards kicked to the right corner but the first put in was overthrown and the second was deemed not straight.

The final act of a bad day at the office was a counter attack from halfway which ended with a loose pass to bring the final whistle.

The 2nd XV game at home to Newcastle was called off due to a frozen pitch.

The defeat makes the visit of third placed Cleobury Mortimer to The Sportsway this Saturday even more crucial as the Shropshire side moved three points closer to Burntwood with their defeat of Uttoxeter. The 2nd XV host Gnosall and the 3rd XV are also at home to Uttoxeter 2nds.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.