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Burntwood RUFC keep themselves in the promotion hunt with narrow win at Handsworth

With five games to go it now looks like a three horse race for promotion after Burntwood RUFC edged past fourth placed Handsworth.

Sean Latham’s side started and ended the game well but went through a wobble either side of half time which allowed the hosts to take the lead at one stage.

Playing down the slope in the first half, Burntwood’s first threat came after just four minutes. Skipper Latham charged through midfield to begin a move which ended with Luke Rookyard going close.

Handsworth struggled to clear their lines and conceded a penalty in the process. The line out option was taken and Pat Bayliss’s catch was driven to the line for Ian Jones to score after nine minutes. Aza Dunet added the conversion.

The home side’s first attack four minutes later ended in a forward pass to their left winger.

A Bayliss line out take was the prelude to Burntwood’s next score on 17 minutes. Possession was moved right to drag the home defence across field before Ben Holt reversed direction to feed Tom O’Brien with a long pass and the full back raced 20 metres to the left corner to touch down. Dunet kicked a fine conversion.

Back came the hosts through multiple phases to maul their way up to the try line and over for a converted try after 24 minutes.

Good work at the restart by Staffordshire U20s’ player Neil Holden had his side back in home territory. They won a penalty which Holt kicked to the left corner. A straightforward catch and drive was finished off by Luke Rookyard for his 21st try of a prolific season in all competitions. Dunet converted for 21-7.

Just three minutes later a missed clearance kick gave the hosts good field position. A penalty award was kicked to the top left corner and the forwards mauled their way over for a try which was excellently converted.

It became a two point game on 36 minutes. Burntwood conceded a free kick for a scrum offence which the home forwards drove forward before releasing the left winger to run round the last defender for the score.

Handsworth began the second period strongly and went ahead 22-21 with a penalty goal just five minutes in.

At this stage the visitors were losing shape, along with turnovers, in the loose play despite spending time in the home half.

Handsworth won a penalty which was kicked to the Burntwood 22. They won the line out but a handling error in midfield was seized on by Luke Rookyard. He fed Ian Jones, enjoying a fine game, who kicked upfield to ten metres off the home line. Holden was up to challenge followed by his pack of forwards.

When the hosts tried to clear, Latham charged the kick down and Holt was there to touch the loose ball down for the bonus point try. Dunet converted.

Burntwood looked to have overcome their dodgy spell but the result was put back in the balance with ten minutes to go when a pass was picked off for the home outside centre to race in from halfway. Crucially, the conversion was missed.

The visitors were able to dominate possession and territory in the time remaining to see the game out although they will have been disappointed not to have converted at least one of three catch and drive opportunities close to the Handsworth line.

The 2nd XV also faced opposition from Handsworth in a Staffs 2nd Team League fixture. They won 29-19 at The Sportsway helped by a brace of tries from Callum Grundy and one from Ollie Bayliss.

This Saturday Burntwood travel again, this time to play Harborne. The 2nd XV are away to table-toppers Shrewsbury 2nds.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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