Mon 22 Jan 2018 12:29 PM

Sat 20 Jan 2018, 14:15

Burntwood defied the wintry weather and the challenge from table-toppers Telford to clinch a crucial win in the race for promotion from M3WN.
The game only went ahead after club volunteers swept the lines to remove the morning snow. Both sides plus match official Jason Powell agreed to play and the spectators were treated to an enthralling contest which went right down to the wire.
Telford tested the home side for the opening ten minutes. Working off the back of a strong set scrum they played their way into the home 22. They were denied by solid tackling in defence and an important line out steal by Pat Bayliss ten metres off his own line.
In contrast, Burntwood’s first attack after 12 minutes produced instant reward. Ben Holt found a good touch from a penalty award. Sean Latham drove from the line out into midfield to set up a ruck infront of the visitors’ posts. Quickly won possession saw Neil Holden dive over for a try which was converted by Aza Dunet.
The Telford restart kick did not go ten metres so Holt was able to keep the pressure on with a kick to the right corner from the ensuing scrum. Josh Canning stole possession to set up a solid platform before the ball was moved wide to Dunet who beat his opposite number for a try under the posts to which he also added the conversion.
So Burntwood found themselves 14 points up after 18 minutes against the meanest defence in the league and they looked promising again from the restart until they were penalised for holding on in the tackle.
Stung into action, Telford hit back strongly. The home defence stood up to the task again but conceded penalties deep in their own 22. The visitors opted for the scrum option close to the line but were held up. However, from a second attempt they moved untidy possession out left to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try on 29 minutes.
Both sides battled in midfield for supremacy in the period remaining up until half time but with no further scores it remained 14-5.
Telford reduced the deficit with a penalty goal five minutes into the second half after controlled build up play from halfway into the home 22.
Burntwood immediately had the opportunity to cancel it out following a superb tackle by skipper Latham at the restart. It won a penalty 30 metres out but for once Dunet miscued with his attempt at goal.
Replacements Graham Shelley and Adam Black came on to add stability to the home scrum. Holt was able to find promising positions with his line kicking but handling errors, understandable given the testing conditions, prevented any scoring chances.
Having defended for ten minutes, Telford made progress to edge ahead on the hour mark. They tested the home defence on halfway before moving the ball wide to their right winger. He cut inside at pace to beat two tackles for a try under the posts. The easy conversion made it 14-15.
The home pack went on a concerted drive to earn a penalty award five minutes later. This time Dunet made no mistake to put his side ahead again.
Telford went for goal near the halfway line after Burntwood were penalised at the restart but the ball slid right of the posts.
With ten minutes left both sides were guilty of infringements in midfield out of range of the posts until the 79th minute. Telford attacked down the left and won a penalty 30 metres out. To the relief of the home camp, the left footed kicker curled his goal attempt the wrong side of the left post.
All that was left was a knock on by the visitors on halfway which was compounded by an infringement and Holt was able to end the game with a kick to touch.
Burntwood 2nds entertained Walsall 3rds for a club fixture. After an enjoyable romp in the snow the visitors made sure of victory with a late try to win 36-26.
This Saturday Burntwood make the short trip to Cannock for a league game – kick off 2.15 pm. The 2nds are TBA.