Mon 19 Feb 2018 12:04 PM

Sat 17 Feb 2018, 14:15

Burntwood shares six tries with Handsworth so it was place kicks which sealed the win to keep them ahead of the pack in M3WN.
Aza Dunet landed two conversions and a penalty as the league leaders had to come from behind to keep their seven match winning streak alive.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Sean Latham’s side made a good start. The home kick off did not travel ten metres and then they conceded a penalty to put the visitors within close range of the try line. The chance ended with a penalty against for holding on.
The first threat from the hosts came after nine minutes when they ran a kick back from halfway. With one defender to beat, the ball was lost in contact. However, Handsworth stole the ball from the ensuing scrum to keep the pressure on. From a quick tapped penalty the hosts moved the ball wide and the full back touched down near the left corner flag.
Burntwood hit back aided by Handsworth conceding penalties. On three occasions they went for line out catch and drive options but with two regular hookers unavailable the opportunities were lost due to crooked throw ins.
At the fourth time of asking after 25 minutes they got a line out right to level the scores. Dave Ward drove close to the line before Neil Holden was there to cross the line for the try. Dunet’s conversion put his side two points ahead.
Handsworth regained the lead within four minutes. They kicked a penalty award for a line out 25 metres from the visitors’ line. The ball was moved wide for the full back to hit the line at pace and feed his right winger for a classy try.
It looked worrying for Burntwood when the hosts went further ahead on 39 minutes. Good passing by the home backs saw the full back in again near the left corner, this time from 30 metres out.
The worries were eased when Burntwood reduced the deficit to a single point before the break. From turnover possession, the ball was moved wide for Rob Jones to make good ground. A penalty award followed and the line out functioned well again to launch a driving maul which Pat Bayliss finished off. Dunet converted impressively from the touchline.
With the slope in their favour, the visitors began the second period at a high tempo. They went through the phases with Billy Fisher and Ward both making good yardage until the hosts conceded a penalty inside their own 22 in front of the posts and Dunet obliged with the goal kick.
A sweeping move from their own half saw the lead extended after 51 minutes. Two tap and go penalties followed and from the second a miss pass out to Lloyd Dunet allowed him to cross near the right corner for a sweetly taken try.
Handsworth pinned the visitors in their own half for the next 15 minutes as Burntwood struggled to find touch with their clearance kicks. The hosts missed a kick at goal and then missed a try-scoring chance because of a forward pass.
Great defence was eventually turned into attack as Burntwood looked to clinch the win and a bonus point. Three times they were held up over the line but the home defence proved as impenetrable as Burntwood’s had earlier in the half.
In time added on the outcome was put in doubt when Handsworth made ground from two penalty awards. A stray pass cost them one scoring opportunity. Then when they had a close range line out following a penalty award, it was their turn to miss their jumper and the ball was gathered and safely cleared to touch to bring the final whistle.
Burntwood 2nds welcomed Handsworth 2nds to The Sportsway. The visitors arrived under-strength but loaned four players who played their part in a highly entertaining and sporting contest which went the way of Russ Palmer’s men 67-37.
This Saturday Burntwood travel to face Newcastle (Staffs) from the league above in the semi-final of the Staffs Intermediate Trophy. The 2nds are due to play Wednesbury 2nds away.