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Burntwood RUFC go top with victory over neighbours Cannock

Burntwood RUFC finished in emphatic style to pull clear of Cannock and go top of M3WN.

Both sides went into the contest with winning records so something had to give. It was keenly fought throughout but 19 points in the last quarter saw the hosts win by seven tries to one.

The visitors made a bright start to the game and went ahead as early as the 4th minute with a penalty goal struck from the home 22 line. Burntwood’s first attack ended in a penalty against for holding on in the tackle before Cannock doubled their lead with another penalty, this time an impressive effort from near halfway after 11 minutes.

The hosts patiently worked their way into the game to record their first score after 21 minutes. A catch and drive effort was held up over the line which led to a five metre scrum. Sean Latham and Neil Holden both went close before Luke Rookyard squeezed over for a try converted by Rory Newall.

Ten minutes later Rookyard led a charge up to the five metre line from which Danny Poole almost crossed but the ball ran loose and was booted clear. Good work by full back Billy Fisher kept play in the opposition half.

Josh Canning won a line out just on the half hour mark from which Poole went close again. Then Canning himself went on the charge at the next attack. The ball was moved wide and left winger Rob Jones finished a neat move off with a try in the corner.

The half ended with Burntwood still in Cannock territory. They couldn’t add to their 12-6 lead but were satisfied to have turned the tide after Cannock’s early play.

It only took five minutes of the second period for Sean Latham’s side to move further ahead. A great attack from halfway, with Poole prominent, saw winger Lloyd Dunet and skipper Latham take play up to the try line before the ever alert Neil Holden was there to collect and dart over. Newall converted.

Three minutes later Rookyard caught a kick out of defence by the visitors’ to run strongly back into the 22. Swift passing presented Poole with the chance to beat his man and run round by the posts for the bonus point try converted by Newall.

At 26-6 it seemed that the job was done but Cannock thought otherwise. A penalty in the home 22 was moved further on for Burntwood not retreating ten metres from the original mark. A tap and go saw a Cannock forward stretch over the line under the posts for an easily converted try.

For the next 15 minutes the outcome was back in the balance as the visitors pounded the home defence but the hosts survived via solid tackling. Eventually Cannock infringed and the danger was cleared.

Club Captain Ben Holt sealed the win following a half break and kick downfield by Ian Jones. Good passing and support play left Holt a clear run to the clubhouse corner.

With five minutes of normal time left Holt kicked for position. Good handling against a tiring defence saw Adam Black close to the line. Cannock cleared but when the ball was run back replacement Nick Peplow was able to stroll over for the score. Newall added a fine conversion from the left touchline.

Four minutes into added time, Fisher and Peplow counter attacked from another clearance kick. The ball was moved right to Newall who showed super skill to sidestep his man and present co-centre Tom O’Brien with the scoring pass. Newall’s successful conversion proved to be the last kick of the game.

To add to the feel good factor in the clubhouse, Russ Palmer’s 2nd team returned from Walsall with their first win of the season. They overcame a mixed 3rds/2nds home team by 33-26.

This Saturday Burntwood defend their league position with a trip to Solihull to face Edwardians. The 2nds have a tough assignment away to Leek 2nds and the 3rds are due to play at Dixonians. All fixtures are 3pm kick offs.

Pictures by Joanne Gough

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