One Down One To Go…
The first leg of a cup and league double fixture over two weekends saw Burnage take the honours on the knockout competition.
Burnage got the first points with an early penalty (3-0) in the first minute but as the match settled down it seemed certain that Manchester would score first. That they didn’t remains a mystery but an excellent try was squandered as the ball was lost in the in-goal area. Nonetheless Manchester levelled after quarter of an hour with a Doug Day penalty reply (3-3).
The hosts found themselves pinned into their 22 for a long period following this and Anthony TiaTia proved unstoppable as he looped to the blind side from an attacking scrum to make it 3-10 when Day converted. The pressure continued and the gap opened to 3-13 with a second Day penalty on the half hour mark.
Burnage’s pack were having the better of the set pieces and it was no surprise when an effective catch & drive from a lineout near Manchester’s line trundled over to bring the home side back into it at 10-13.
That looked a poor return from a good half but worse was to come when the first period closed with a breakaway try so that Burnage turned around 17-13 up to most spectator’s surprise.
A bright start took Manchester back into the lead when Brian Ndlovu charged under the posts, the defence having been stretched as Manchester worked the ball left and then back inside for a 17-20 lead with half an hour to play. Burnage responded immediately however when a clearance kick was charged down, resulting in a penalty being awarded for offside. The tap was taken quickly and the lead changed hands again to 24-20.
At the end of the third quarter of a ding-dong game, Day pointed to the sticks to close to the narrowest of gaps at 24-23 with everything to play for.
Another rapid exchange of scores saw Burnage move to 31-23 with a try from close quarters before Charlie Ding set Joe Houghton up for a kick chase with a dink over the line, won to bring the game back to within a score at 31-28.
Both teams were now well up for the fight but it was Burnage who took a ten point lead into the last ten minutes when Manchester’s defence took a couple of hits so that they were simply outnumbered (38-28) and the pressure told.
The killer try came five minutes later with a break that took great advantage of what must have been a very flat pass. Manchester’s defensive line had been generally good all afternoon despite the high scoring game, but couldn’t cope with this. Converted to 45-28 there was no way back now and so it was Burnage that marched on in the Lancashire Cup competition.