Third Time Lucky...
This was the third meeting of the season between both teams as thay had already faced each other in both the League and in Cup Competition.
Match report by Thomas Anderson, Burnage RFC Press Officer - used by permission and with thanks
It was Burnage who got off to the better start out of the two teams at Grove Park but they couldn’t get an early try to show for their efforts.
Having not done much attacking in the opening 10 minutes, Manchester managed to score with their first real attack of the game. Their ever lively and powerful centre, Anthony Tiatia, managed to break the Burnage defensive line, and with a two man overlap to his left, played a simple pass to his centre partner, Zak Round for the opening try of the game. The touchline conversion went wide, 5-0.
The rain continued to fall which brought many handling errors, more so to Burnage who found it difficult to produce that bit of quality at the end of a move. Burnage again fashioned an opening down the right hand side but a knock on brought the attack to an abrupt end.
Manchester were awarded a penalty outside the 22, after Burnage were pinged back for an offence in the ruck and this time Doug Day made no mistake from the kicking tee to widen the score to 8-0 having played 27 minutes.
Burnage nearly responded straight away. Josh Miller used his deadly pace to get away from his wing partner, making impressive ground to get Burnage into a dangerous position. A series of pick and goes from the forwards followed but a strong Manchester defensive wall kept them out and when the ball looked to be recycled out wide, yet another handling error ended any hope of a try.
From a defensive lineout, Manchester managed to get themselves to the halfway mark after a number of surging carries. They were given the advantage after a high tackle offence which was quickly followed up with another Burnage offence in the ruck. Referee, Ryan Owen, went straight to his pocket to show Freddie Wilson a yellow card which was immediately turned into a red seconds later, after words had been exchanged, leaving Burnage to play the remaining 45 minutes with 14 men.
With a man advantage, Manchester applied pressure to the Burnage defence in search of a second try before half time. Burnage were resilient in defence where they were able to win a penalty inside their own 22, which they decided to take quickly and clear downfield. The home side came straight back at Burnage down the right wing with Anthony Tiatia yet again leading break. It looked as though they would have that wanted second try but the final pass, 5m out, was judged to have gone forward by the linesman, bringing an end to the attack and the first half.
Straight from the off, Manchester attacked Burnage. An exchange of passes saw the ball switched along the line from the right to the left before Zak Rounds sudden change of pace allowed him to once again exploit the gap in the Burnage defensive line to score his, and Manchester’s second try of the game. Doug Day sent the conversion through the posts to stretch their lead to 15 points, having played 43 minutes.
When Oli Dickinson broke clear down the right wing for Manchester, warning bells started to ring in the ears of the Burnage travelling support. With the ball positioned only metres from the line, Manchester’s Loosehead Prop, Daniel Pym, to pick up and power over the line and with another successful conversion, widened the score to22-0 with half an hour to play.
For the final quarter of the game, Burnage mostly controlled the ball in hand. Tom Cox weaved his way through a tackle and into the 22, however the scrum half lacked support resulting in the 9 being tackled and then penalised for not releasing the ball.
Burnage’s best spell of pressure came in the 70th minute, following Adam Knight’s penalty kick to the corner, leaving Burnage in a very dangerous lineout position. Straight away a driving maul was formed which looked promising until the referee blew for another Burnage penalty, despite the maul still looking as though it was moving. Burnage opted for the scrum which they released out wide but yet again Manchester’s defensive wall stood firm, winning the ball back on their try line and kicking clear.
Despite being a man down and 22 points behind, Burnage continued to search for a try. Second half substitute, Kier Merrick broke free down the right and had an option of an outside pass to Josh Miller; however the winger opted to carry on his own individual run before being tackled. Once again Manchester managed to steal the ball in the ruck to relieve pressure and prevent Burnage scoring.
Ryan Owen brought an end to a game which swung away from Burnage in the second half following two second half tries from Manchester, adding to their first early in the game which increases Manchester’s winning streak to three games now.