Mon 26 Feb 2018 14:25

Sat 24 Feb 2018, 14:15

Newcastle (Staffs) RUFC Ltd
Burntwood Rugby Club Limited
Staffs intermediate Trophy – semi-final
For the third season running, Newcastle knocked Burntwood out of the Staffs Intermediate Trophy.
The difference in league status showed as the hosts powered their way into the final to defend the trophy they won last year. However, three tries in the final 15 minutes gave a flattering look to the scoreline given that Burntwood were well in the game after an hour’s play.
The title holders dominated early play to camp in the visitors’ half. However they met stiff resistance from a determined Burntwood defence. Twice they survived five metre scrummages, one of which they took against the put in – no mean feat given the size of the home pack.
The pressure finally told after 17 minutes when the centre, normally the Newcastle No.8, crashed his way through to stretch over the line for a try which was converted.
Burntwood’s first attack followed six minutes later. After winning turnover possession at another home scrum, they probed right, left and then right again until a handling error close to the line cost them a score. However, they won the ensuing scrummage and then a penalty award at which they chose the scrum option. A drive for the line saw Josh Canning touch down and Aza Dunet’s superb conversion brought the score level on 26 minutes.
The hosts went ahead ten minutes later. A strong run in the centre provided the momentum on the Burntwood ten metre line and the backs linked to send the right winger round by the posts for a converted try.
The visitors suffered a double blow right at the end of the first half. Newcastle had already missed a shot at goal but some desperate defending was required to prevent a try. However, influential skipper Sean Latham was forced off the field with a leg injury and then the Newcastle outside half was through to the line on the overlap after the forwards had sucked in the cover defence. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful to leave the half time score 19-7.
The strong home forwards continued to punch holes early in the second period but their only reward was a penalty goal on 49 minutes.
Burntwood hit back to enjoy their best spell of the contest. They took the scrum option from a penalty awarded for a high tackle ten metres out. Another two penalty awards cost the hosts a front row player to the sin bin and the visitors sniffed a comeback.
However, Dunet’s half break to feed Nick Peplow ended with the winger tackled into touch close to the line. Opposite winger Lloyd Dunet was then stopped as he tried to round his man on the home 22 line. These chances, combined with a couple of handling errors, were the nearest they came to scoring while they had the one man advantage.
Infact it was Newcastle who broke out to score just as the carded player was about to return. They moved the ball wide to their right winger who outpaced the cover for an unconverted try after 66 minutes.
Straight from the restart the hosts were in again. A well-timed pass put the left winger away for another unconverted try to make it 32-7.With six minutes left the final score came from the right winger who finished off a good handling move.
In time added on, Burntwood launched a sweeping attack in the hope of a consolation score. Aza Dunet, Rory Newall and Ross Bedworth were all involved in a move from their own half up to five metres off the home line only for possession to be lost at the vital moment.
Burntwood will hope to recover from their first defeat in 2018 when they resume league action this Saturday with the visit of fifth placed Harborne to The Sportsway – kick off 3pm. A fixture for the 2nds is TBA.