Burnage 21 v Manchester 33
By Tim Harper
Manchester battle for first away win of season
Burnage 21 v Manchester 33
The day did not get of to the best of starts, when it was realised that due to a mix up Manchester had travelled across the ‘mersey’ with only 17 players, which did not help the way the game unfolded.
Putting this behind them Manchester started much the stronger and totally dominated the first half, which was played almost entirely in the Burnage half.
The surprise was that it took Manchester almost 25 minutes to get on the scoreboard through a penalty from Doug Day. Prior to this, several try scoring opportunities had been squandered by poor decision making when overlaps were there to be converted. Burnage were also able to relieve pressure on a couple of occasions due to Manchester ill discipline and talking back to the ref.
The pressure remained on Burnage especially from the scrum with Martin Halsall totally dominating at tight head.. Having made a break close to the try line Zak Round went down heavily and had to be replaced, with no recognised back sub Brodie moved into the centre and Mike Jordan came into the pack.
From the next play, Manchester won good ball in the Burnage 22, which was cleverly switched back to the blind side by Jay for Karl Higginson to go over in the right corner, conversion missed the score at 0v8 to the visitors. Burnage restart was short resulting in a scrum, the ball was moved blind where Burnage infringed and Doug slotted the penalty 0v11.
From the kick off, Manchester had a good exit and the ball was cleared deep by Jay. The ball was turned over in the line and driven into the Burnage 22. A slick move by Charlie with an inside pass saw Doug burst through close to the ruck, with a clean break he was able to pass back inside for Jay to score a try, converted by Doug. Manchester went into the half 18 points up but perhaps feeling it should have been slightly more, even though it was 3 points more than the Burnage scoreboard stated!!
The dominance continued in the second half for the first 10 minutes, with first Charlie and then Alex going over for well worked tries, one of which was converted by Doug, 0v30.
Although down to 14 men due to a no arms tackle things started to turn around for Burnage, the game had to go to uncontested scrums as the Burnage hooker was already off injured and they did not have a front three during the yellow card for one of their props.
The solid platform now seen at the scrum allowed Burnage to get a foothold in the game, which they exploited with some clever off loads and breaks. This was helped by a constant stream of injuries to Manchester players, as first Enna (shoulder), Sam Davis (dislocated finger) and Karl went down and had to come off. Down to 13 on the park at times as players were patched up and sent back on, the disruption took its toll.
During a 15 minute period Burnage ran in 3 tries which were all converted. This had the score in my notes at 21v30 but on the scoreboard at 21v27. Burnage assumed they were one score adrift and attacked with renewed vigour. However, going into the last 8 minutes Manchester were able to break out and forced a penalty, 40 yards out to the left of the sticks. Unfortunately, Doug pulled the kick slightly and the pressure stayed on.
As the clock wound down Burnage took the ball into the Manchester 22 but turned it over. Exercising great control, moving the ball side to side in their own 22 Manchester moved through the phases, eventually breaking through to take the ball back into the Burnage half, where once again they infringed, this time Doug was successful with the penalty, 21v33 as the full time whistle went.
A great result for Manchester, a solid display in the first 50 minutes only disrupted by injuries. Great grit and game management at the end moving the ball 70 yards and through 12 phases to secure the win.
A great team performance, however, special note for Martin dominant in the scrum and lasting 80 minutes; Charlie as strong over the ball as ever; Jay great control and several good line breaks; Jake, Karl, Enna, Brodie and Sam making the hard yards all game.
Five well earned and deserved league points.
If they can recover from the injuries and keep this team together things are definitely looking up for Manchester.