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Burntwood RUFC climb to the summit with bonus point win at Cannock

Burntwood RUFC went top of the table after a bonus point win at Cannock and a third straight defeat for Telford.

It was a stop-start affair at The Morgan Ground with both sides falling foul of the referee’s whistle along with three yellow cards plus a red for the Cannock tight head prop on the hour mark.

Despite playing up the slope, the hosts made a strong start to the contest. They scored what proved to be their only points of the afternoon after just two minutes via a penalty goal. It needed solid defence from the visitors to prevent further damage before a Pat Bayliss line out take and a blockbusting charge from skipper Sean Latham set up Burntwood’s first attack.

Cannock conceded a penalty and then lost a player to the sin bin after just eight minutes. Burntwood capitalised immediately with a series of midfield thrusts that had the home defence backpedalling. Swift handling by the backs saw Rob Jones go over for the opening try near the corner flag. Aza Dunet was unlucky when his conversion attempt came back off a post.

The Cannock restart kick went directly into touch so Luke Rookyard was able to sustain Burntwood’s momentum with a run into the opposition half. Cannock infringed and Ben Holt put his side into the home 22 with the kick to touch.

Bayliss won the line out, Rookyard charged again and Neil Holden got close to the line before more good handling out wide was finished off by Lloyd Dunet for a try in the right corner. Dunet put over a fine conversion to put the visitors 12-3 up on 19 minutes.

Burntwood needed to take further advantage of the slope but the rest of the half was disjointed with both sides guilty of infringements when in promising positions. Josh Canning and Graham Shelley were able to steal opposition line out ball but their own line outs were less secure.

Dave Ward saw yellow close to half time but stout defence denied the hosts the chance to take advantage of their extra man so it remained 12-3 at the turnaround.

The opening ten minutes of the second period belonged to Burntwood but they couldn’t add to their lead. Dunet missed a kick at goal two minutes in and then a catch and drive four minutes later ended with Holden being stopped just short of the line.

Cannock worked their way downfield, helped by a series of bewildering penalty awards. Twice they went for the scrum option from close range only to infringe themselves at the second one despite Rory Newall being yellow carded between the two awards.

The hosts were then reduced to 14 players for an offence which remained a mystery to the spectators. Burntwood worked their way upfield and a quickly taken tapped penalty allowed replacement Ross Bedworth to squeeze over in the right corner to make it 17-3 after 62 minutes.

Cannock had the chance to reduce the arrears on 74 minutes but a kick at goal was wide of the target and then great defence kept them out until Ian Jones intercepted to clear the danger.

The visitors made sure of the spoils with a converted try in time added on. This time they were the beneficiaries of a series of penalty awards. A close range catch and drive resulted in Rookyard taking possession to dodge two tacklers and cross for the bonus point try. Newall added an excellent conversion.

Alan Mapp initiated one of the best moves of the match from the restart but it ended in a scrum against in the home 22. Cannock’s last attempt to breach the Burntwood defence was halted and Holt ended the contest with a touch kick on the home ten metre line.

There were plenty of points in the 2nd XV game at home to Rugeley 2nds but it was the visitors who dominated to win 44-22.

This Saturday The Sportsway hosts two games with the 1sts looking to retain their pole position against Edwardians and the 2nd XV hosting Leek 2nds – both kick offs are at 2.15pm.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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