After the monsoon conditions Oldham had encountered over the past week, the match was in doubt the day before, it was a complete suprise for sunshine to greet both teams at Stoneleigh Park. After a fiery encounter a month back, it had the ingredients of a passionate game, filled with some exciting rugby. With Saints having a good hit out against Saddleworth the week before, spirits were high in the camp depsite the weather curtailing training plans in the week.
The Saints kicked off proceedings, and the Bulldogs led the charge forward into the Green Machine defence. It held firm, with Sam Hall
, Adam Goodwin
and the ever improving Joe Harris
leading the team forward in defencive duties. As the line held firm despite some strong running from the Burtonwood forwards, the kick went downfield and the Saints mounted an early charge. Scrum Half, Lewis Croft
dictated play and laid the platform for Keenan Fraser
to blast holes into the line, but to their credit, they held the prop well all game. Centre, Sean Cosgrove
and full back Lewis Wighton-Turner
struggled to get their speed up with ball in hand, as the speed of line and tenacity of the tackle held the Saints on the back foot.
The first try came off an Oldham mistake, as Keenan Fraser
drove the ball out of the 20m zone. The forward was judged to knock on and a resultant penalty for dissent saw the Saints on the back of a penalty deep into their own 20m. From the tap, the ball came left and the Burtonwood player ran strongly to the corner, and despite cover tackles going in from Robert Charles
and Lewis Wighton-Turner
, the player grounded the ball over the line, next to the corner flag to register the games opening try. 0-4.
From the restart, the Saints tried to up their game, and with Bradley Howarth
and Aaron Gray
trying hard to make yards with scampering runs forward. They were met by some strong one on one tackles, that prevented them from going forward and gaining further inroads into the Burtonwood defence. As the Saints tried to meet the Warrington outfit in the same manner defencively, the Bulldogs seem to make that extra few yards forwards and were quicker in the ruck area. With that, it put the Higginshaw Road team on the back foot, and were caught out moments later when the ball came right and the Burtonwood team had numbers over on that side. It created a 7 on 2 and with ball through hands the 13 was presented with a gap the size of the Channel Tunnel to go through and score mid way between the post and corner. 0-8.
More misery was to follow, as scrum half Lewis Croft
was forced to quit with an injury. The Saints had to revert to a more familiar style and try and get back into the game. They tried in vain with some good running from Ellis Rogers
, Jay Cooper and the strong, direct runs from Michael Rigby
. But the scoreline stayed 0-8 at halftime.
From the kick off, the Saints failed to field the kick and gave possesion to the visitors. As the tackles came in, one was adjudged high, which was a little harsh, and it gave the Bulldogs possesion 10m from the Saints line. From the penalty, the Saints were caught napping and the Bulldogs scored their third try. 0-12.
The Saints came forward from the restart, and it was the best spell of attack. Guvvie Singh
ran hard into the heart of the defence, and Sam Hall
and Robert Charles
tried in vain to pierce this strong line. They thought the defence had been breached as stand off Robert Charles
, dropped the shoulder and went through into the 40m zone, and looked for support, as the support came from hooker Adam Goodwin
, the reliable nu,ber nine was hauled down in a great tackle. As Sam Hall
set the platform and the pressure built, a kick into the ingoal area by Robert Charles
on the last saw Ellis Rogers
put the pressure on the visitors winger, who hacked it dead. However, Ellis was adjudged offside, and a penalty resulted. Unlucky.
As the Bulldogs came away, David Taylor
and Callum Jones tackled well, and always stood their ground, and more importantly, held their position well. The forwards gained ground, the ball came left through hands, and they had numbers wide out and it became a walk in for the Burtonwood player. Good try. 0-16.
To their credit, the Green & Golds tried to get something out of the game. Billy Travis
made great yardage with every touch, and has developed a neat side step in the process. But the forward who was the most likely to breach the line was Michael Rigby
who ran like a demon all game. Every game he plays, he gets stronger and stronger and is a huge aquisition for the team. The same goes to Jay Cooper who took some stopping with ball in hand, but it's his defencive qualities that make him stand out. Fearless and determined to the hilt in every game, and Jay Cooper does it to the letter.
The final Burtonwood try came of a great crossfield kick on the last tackle, and the Warrington player took the ball on the full over the line to touch down. 0-20 Full time.
Saint performed better than the scoreline suggests, but credit goes to the Burtonwood defence who looked unbreakable in this encounter.