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Burntwood RUFC’s position near the top of M3WN was strengthened after a hard-fought win at Willenhall and surprising home losses for their nearest promotion rivals Telford and Stafford.
Sean Latham’s side remain in second place but with a game in hand over the other two challengers and it is top of the table Telford who visit The Sportsway this Saturday – kick off 2.15pm.
Despite the league standings, a win at Bognop Road is never easy. The visitors scored two tries in the first quarter but the third did not arrive until the 83rd minute. The Burntwood camp know they wasted a few try-scoring opportunities but they were more than pleased to have kept the hosts scoreless.
The first threat came from Luke Rookyard who charged close to the home line after just two minutes. Willenhall infringed but, having chosen the kick to the corner, Burntwood then infringed at the line out and the danger was cleared.
Good build up play four minutes later, which featured a strong run by Lloyd Dunet, ended in similar fashion with a penalty against.
Willenhall’s first excursion into the visitors’ territory saw their forwards rumble up to the 22 but they too infringed. Ben Holt capitalised with a superb touch kick just five metres off the home line. Josh Canning won line out possession to feed the backs and a neat move saw Neil Holden run clean through to the posts for the opening try converted by Aza Dunet.
A solid tackle by Rory Newall denied the hosts the chance of a quick reply before Burntwood went further ahead on 20 minutes. Holden’s run from 22 to 22 set up the attacking platform. Willenhall infringed twice and from the second catch and drive attempt, Rookyard crossed in the left corner to make it 12-0.
Burntwood’s momentum was hindered when they had to re-shuffle their back division following injuries to Tom O’Brien and Billy Fisher. A midfield tustle ensued for 15 minutes until Aza Dunet made a break to feed Newall over half way. Presented with a two on one, the scoring pass to Lloyd Dunet was mistimed and the chance was lost.
Right on half time Burntwood were in good position again with a five metre line out but the throw in wasn’t straight so the score remained 12-0 at the interval.
Both sides tried to establish control in the ten minutes after half time until Burntwood stepped up a gear to gain the upper hand. However, another opportunity was lost when Rookyard’s pass to Holden was forward, one of a number of errors which kept the hosts still in the hunt for much needed league points as they look to climb up the table.
With ten minutes of normal time left the next score became crucial. The big Willenhall forwards threatened the visitors’ line from scrum and line out options but resolute defence kept them out.
The result was put beyond doubt with a converted try in time added on. Newall’s burst from his own half to deep inside the home 22 led to a series of drives for the line which eventually saw Rookyard go over for his second try which was converted by Dunet.
Willenhall mounted intense pressure on the visitors’ try line in the few minutes remaining in the hope of a consolation score but stubborn defence again kept them out until referee Shaun Godfrey penalised them and Holt ended the contest with a kick to touch.
An out of sorts 2nd XV hosted a strong Stoke Development side and went down at home 61-14 in a Staffs Reserve League Division One fixture. Russ Palmer’s side are in the fixture pool for this Saturday.
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