Mon 26 Mar 2018 15:16

Sat 24 Mar 2018, 15:00

Burntwood Rugby Club Limited
Stafford RUFC
Stafford completed the double over Burntwood to trim their lead at the top of M3WN.
It could have been worse as the visitors led 24-3 after scoring their third try just a minute into the second half but Sean Latham’s side battled back to prevent Stafford gaining a bonus point try and they secured a vital losing bonus point in the process.
The hosts had their fair share of territory and possession but found the streetwise opposition defence tough to breach until the final quarter.
Aza Dunet put his side ahead after two minutes with a well-struck penalty goal from near the visitor’s ten metre line following a scrum infringement.
Stafford had the chance to level the scores on seven minutes but the goal attempt from 40 metres slid left of the posts. However, they did move ahead eight minutes later. Close range line out possession was moved wide and the home defence did well to defend a crash ball effort but a second charge produced a try and conversion close to the posts.
Three times Burntwood went through the phases to get into the visitors’ 22 to set up promising positions but on each occasion Stafford robbed the ball to clear their lines.
When Stafford attacked from one turnover it resulted in Neil Holden being yellow carded for a high tackle and the resulting penalty was converted for 3-10.
The visitors took advantage of their extra man on the half hour mark. They opted for a close range scrum at a penalty award and used the overlap in the backs for a try in the right corner which was superbly converted.
The numbers were evened up close to half time when Stafford lost a player to the sin bin for deliberate offside. Burntwood opted for the scrum option which proved messy but they won the ensuing line out to probe away. They took a Stafford scrum which ended with Ian Jones going close but he was injured in the process and replaced by his brother Rob.
A fumble at the kick off to the second half saw Stafford regain possession. The ball was moved wide for a chip and chase. A favourable bounce ended with a try in the right corner followed by another excellent conversion and the hosts were staring down the barrel.
They hit back strongly to force a series of close range scrums but without reward until the 62nd minute. Ben Holt kicked a penalty award for a line out five metres off the visitors’ line. Luke Rookyard took a return pass to squeeze over in the corner for a try. Dunet showed he was a match for the Stafford place kicker by adding a fine conversion.
Momentum was now with the home side. Rookyard’s effort from a close range tapped penalty did not result in a try but it did cost Stafford a player to the sin bin on 70 minutes.
Tom O’Brien scored a try with the second of two opportunities from another tapped penalty and Dunet’s conversion made it a seven point game.
They had to defend manfully to keep within range as Stafford hit back but eventually a turnover and penalty award allowed them to work their way out of their own 22 to halfway but the move ended up in touch to bring the final whistle.
Stafford Development XV showed why they are top of Staffs Reserve League Division One with a dominant second half performance to defeat Burntwood 2nds 52-5 at Stafford.
Easter Saturday sees Burntwood 2nds visit Ludlow before the 1st XV are back in action on 7th April with another crucial promotion tussle away to Telford Hornets. The 2nds welcome Telford 2nds to The Sportsway on the same day.