Sat 4 Nov 2017, 14:15
Despite dominating the set scrums and being competitive in the line outs, the hosts were not at their best and had to work hard in defence, particularly in the second half, to deny the visitors.
The tone was set right at the start when Burntwood fumbled the kick off, missed a kick to touch and then within a minute the Handsworth outside half ran across field on a curving run to expose some flimsy defence and set up a try in the right corner.
Burntwood’s first threat came five minutes later when Ben Holt kicked a penalty award to the right corner. Josh Canning won possession to set up a catch and drive which led to a series of scrums five metres out. Luke Rookyard went close before Canning himself stretched over in the left corner to level the scores.
It needed a crucial tackle by full back Billy Fisher, one of several he had to make in the match, to prevent Handsworth from regaining the lead.
Sean Latham’s side edged ahead on 19 minutes following another Holt kick to the right corner. This time, his pack of forwards wasted no time in taking the line out and driving over the line for Danny Poole to touch down.
Ten minutes later the visitors went ahead again. A long, wind-assisted kick downfield saw the hosts concede a penalty close to their own line. A quick tap and go brought a try and the successful conversion, the first of the afternoon, made it 10-12.
Close to half time, Fisher initiated a good counter attack with a strong run into opposition territory. Twice, winger Lloyd Dunet had the chance to stretch his legs down the right only to be forced into touch on both occasions.
With the half time whistle due, the forwards drove well to set up the backs for a neatly executed set move which freed Tom O’Brien on a clean run to the posts for a try converted by Aza Dunet.
Fisher was brought into action again right at the start of the second period with two try saving tackles. Handsworth support players could have still profited on both occasions but they knocked the ball on.
The visitors tested the home defence for much of the third quarter but any kicks for line outs proved fruitless with Canning, Pat Bayliss and Sean Brennan in fine form.
However, when it came to Burntwood’s first attack of the half they pulled further ahead. Receiving possession from a line out, O’Brien broke in midfield, drew the last defender and put co-centre Aza Dunet in for the bonus point try.
Another Handsworth fumble close to the home line cost them the chance of a quick reply but they maintained the pressure and went over from another tap and go from a penalty on 65 minutes to make it 22-17.
A good break by Rookyard set up a penalty goal attempt by Dunet but his effort was left of the target. However, from the drop out, the ball was set up for O’Brien to cleverly improvise a pass to Poole and he fended off a defender to storm away to the clubhouse corner for the try. Dunet found the target this time with a fine conversion.
Handsworth worked hard to obtain the bonus points available to them in the last ten minutes but the home defence stood strong and their solid set piece play enabled them to eventually clear the danger.
Burntwood 2nds continued their climb up Staffs Reserve League Division One with a 31-22 win away to Handsworth whilst the colts came off second best at home to Leek in the Staffs Colts Transitional League.
This Saturday Burntwood travel to face third placed Harborne, the 2nds are TBA and the colts are due to host Stoke.
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