BOURNS STILL IN THE HUNT FOR A TOP TWO SPOT
BOURNVILLE 28 BURTON 16
Bournville welcomed rivals Burton to open up rugby at the university in 2016 searching to atone for their heaviest defeat of the season when the sides last met back in September. Both sides showed changes from that meeting and a close battle was anticipated. The pitch has held up to the drenching of the last few weeks and the game started with the floodlights on, on a gloomy day in Birmingham.
Just a few changes to the Bourns squad, with Ian Coles coming in at hooker after injury allowing brother Paul to revert to his favoured position of loose head. Chris Morgan returned to open side after his injury lay off. On the bench, prop Steve Blackburn also returned after a lay off and Bourns welcomed new boy second row Tom Holliday and the returning winger young Billy Lee to complete the bench.
From the outset, both sides made some unforced errors looking a little rusty after a three week break. Bourns kicked off and fielded a return kick which was inexplicably dropped by stand off Alex Warner, but he was to have the last laugh. From the resulting scrum play moved into the Bourns 22 and a transgression at the break down allowed the Burton fly half and captain a simple chance at 3 points after 3 minutes of play. From the kick off Burton made a hash of it as the ball was knocked on and a player in front picked up the loose ball. Bourns chose to be positive and go for the corner. Burton held out the drive but play moved to the opposite corner. Another line out was repelled but the award of a penalty allowed the quick thinking scrum half Sam Vaughan to take a "quick" tap and go over under the posts, so Bourns 7-3 to the good after just seven minutes play.
Bourns then became their own worst enemies conceding a string of unnecessary penalties and questioning the decisions made.
This gave ground away to the visitors, One such enquiry cost 10 metres for the lead to reduce to 7-6 after 10 minutes. A series of errors then led Burton to knocking on in goal after an unsuccessful shot at goal. The scrum was good and No 8 Drew Harper and Sam Vaughan worked some space for wing Paul Sumner to juggle the low pass and score his 13th try of the season in the far corner just after 15 minutes. Play then meandered between the 22's for the rest of the half, so 12-6 to the home side in a competitive physical encounter. Bourns made a change in the front row as Ian Coles had a recurrence of his injury.
Burton had the benefit of the wind in the second half and scored 10 un answered points in the first 6 minutes of play. A useful box kick was fielded on half way and Burton's best forward caught it and ran. Some initial powder puff tackling allowed the player to gain momentum and as Moses parted the waves, some quick hands released the scrum half to cross the white wash under the posts. More break down penalties were conceded one of which was kicked, so in a blink of an eye Burton held a 16-12 lead. Head coach Dean Lewis responded with a backs change and soon after brought on the sizeable Tom Holliday to boost the pack. Burton suffered a couple of injuries as the power of the Bourns forward effort started to take it's toll. The backs were beginning to find some gaps and Burton resorted to illegal tactics to slow the ball down. After 61 minutes, Warner slotted a penalty, then three minutes later started and ended the best move of the match when he gathered on half way, dummied himself into some space and good interplay on the short side with centre Greg Moore and wing Paul Sumner allowed Warner to take a return pass. He was just held up but a forward shunt shoved him over the line for the touch down.
Bourns controlled things from there on in with another Warner penalty to lead 23-16, but made things awkward when new boy Tom Holliday reacted to something and took the law into his own hands and received a red card for a punch on 70 minutes. The man dis-advantage wasn't felt as Bourns raised their efforts for captain Rob Griffin to secure the try bonus point with a typical rampaging run leaving would be tacklers in his slip stream with five minutes to go. A misplaced pass could have led to an interception and a losing bonus point, but Burton couldn't convert the chance.
So a 28-16 bonus point win against one of our rivals for the top spot. Job well done fellas but work to do in certain areas. Star man was flanker Chris Morgan whose work in the loose at the breakdown was pivotal in the forwards powerful performance up front. Woz Oliver deserves a mention as he gained countless yardage on the wings from defensive positions. In the other top of the table clash, Bridgnorth secured a handsome 31-3 away victory at Worcester Warriors and Stratford snuck up to third with a home win over Hereford. All this leaves Bridgnorth and Bournville level on 51 points at the top, but Bourns remain second on points difference and the Bridge men have a game in hand. Stratford are one point behind in third spot.
Bourns travel for the first time to Crewe and Nantwich next week who are tucked into mid table but who beat Bourns in the reverse fixture in a high scoring encounter.
15, Stefan Cooksammy, 14, Paul Sumner, 13, Tom Jarvis, 12, Greg Moore, 11, Warren Oliver, 10, Alex Warner, 9, Sam Vaughan, 8, Drew Harper, 7, Chris Morgan, 6, Rob Griffin (capt), 5, Steve Handy, 4, Steve Smith, 3, Terry Sigley, 2, Ian Coles, 1, Paul Coles, 16, Steve Blackburn, 17, Tom Holliday, 18, Billy Lee.
A minor upgrade for the camera due to a slight accident with the previous one left me having to do some last minute adjustments to the settings. I think I completed them sometime in the 2nd half.
I have left the title empty, ignoring the obvious one and look forward to Mikes effort.
It was a bit too muddy on the touchline today to keep trolling up and down, so I tended to anticipate the moves and stay in a few of the drier places.
So without further ado, please take a look HERE at this weeks rather limited offerings for the reason previously mentioned.
Lee Sullivan, Bournville's always friendly (and free) match photographer