Burnage in the Isle of Man.

A quick post to say a huge thank you and congratulations to all who travelled to Douglas IOM at the weekend.

What a weekend it became. A magnificent and much needed win for the in-form Burnage First XV against a strong Douglas side who have only lost three home games in two seasons in their IOM stronghold. But the 11-25 final scoreboard said it all. 

After a tough contested first half and an equal share of the spoils at eleven all with the wind in our favour, the non-believers could have been forgiven for expecting the worst at the turn. 

But step up Burnage RFC – every man did his job and great performances all over the park were augmented by timely and brilliant use of replacements at around 60 minutes to continue the momentum and see the game through with another memorable win in North 1 West. A league like no other at level 6 in the UK where sadly one team will see relegation next week despite amassing over 60 points.

Statistically it could still be Burnage and we host Broughton Park next week with a slim shadow of some frankly unbelievable coincidences in the form of high scoring draws in other fixtures taking matters out of hands and the heroics of 14 points from the last three games would come to nothing.

But take a single point or more n our final game and it should be enough. It’s been tense, it’s been frustrating, but it’s definitely been entertaining and frankly I can’t wait to do it all again in this league from September. (If the gods of rugby deem it to be!)

I can’t let this post go without a huge thank you to our travelling supporters. Over 30 Burnage faithful, many in full Stripey’s, made the trip, surviving without hot water for 3 days in what has to be the worst hotel in the UK, (Are you reading Best Western?) including a significant number of our ladies of a certain age, who never missed a drink all weekend.

My thanks also to acting Chairman Tony Wilson-Sprat and President Gareth Hoosen-Owen (apparently you have to have a double barrel name here) for their superb hospitality and for being a ‘proper rugby club’ on and off the pitch. I hope we return next year.

Next week its home to Varley Park and our visitors Broughton Park, who have arrived back in level 6 this season with clear intentions to stay. We were mostly asleep in the first fixture back in September, let’s make sure were wide awake on Saturday with a big crowd to see us through and out of the most nerve shredding season for years with a win.

Steve Willock

Chairman

Burnage 1st XV V Firwood Waterloo

Burnage 38 -57 Firwood Waterloo

Writing a 500 word match report on this relegation battle would just about be enough to cover the first half an hour. With only two points separating the two sides ahead of the game, and a place outside the relegation zone at stake, a rather tense atmosphere was in the air in amidst a spring hailstorm at Burnage Rugby Club.

Burnage kicked this relegation battle off, which followed with the first five minutes consisting of many errors, with both teams finding it difficult to settle into the game. Waterloo on their first dangerous attack capitalised when their tight-head prop crashed over the line, along with two Burnage players for a converted try.

It wasn’t long later that the visitors increased their lead. A fine ball in hand move from their backline saw the ball switched to the right, where their winger was on hand to somehow squeeze the ball in the corner to score.

Waterloo had yet to be tested in defence but when a lapse in concentration gifted Burnage the ball inside the 22, the home side kicked into life. A surging carry from Freddie Wilson took Burn into an excellent position before Stu Oldham weaved his way expertly to the line to score. Rhys Evans successfully added the extras.

Having started rather hesitantly, Burnage had been given a momentum boost from the try. They were awarded a penalty, which they took quickly, after Freddie Wilson once again stormed through the defensive line. The ball was switched out to the right and with a three man overlap allowed James Clark to score, with Rhys Evans once again scoring the conversion.

The turnaround was complete less than five minutes later when Burnage scored their third try in as many minutes. Once again a gap in the Waterloo defence was taken advantage off by Stu Oldham who was brought down 5m short, however Joe Wrigley was in close support to pick up and score a converted try, 21-12.

Any neutrals in attendance would have loved the explosive start, although for both sets of supporters, they had just experienced their turns on the rollercoaster of rugby emotions. Waterloo reduced the deficit to four points on the half hour mark when their left winger proved he had too much pace to handle, running clear to score.

This game was turning into something quite remarkable and just as you thought you had finished recording one try, another was scored. With Burnage living dangerously, and a penalty advantage pending, Waterloo took full advantage to secure their try bonus point. Waterloo’s lock was on hand to take in the offload and simply fall over the line to put his side back in front, having played thirty-three minutes.

With the air still bitterly cold, the number of handling errors were starting to amount. Waterloo scored their fifth of the half, when their left winger crossed for his second of the game, bringing to an end a half of quite astonishing but entertaining rugby.  

Half Time: Burnage 21-29 Firwood Waterloo

In terms of entertainment wise, the second half had a lot to live up to. Both teams would agree due to their league positions that they wouldn’t care how the second half unfolded as long as they ended up with the win. For Burn a big response was needed, however they ended up getting off to the worst possible start.

With many of the supporters still in the clubhouse, this try was missed by the many in attendance. Nevertheless Waterloo’s scrum half was there to score within the opening minutes, a real blow for the hosts.

Yet again Waterloo broke down the left hand side and when the ball was passed outside to their winger metres out, it looked inevitable that he wouldn’t increase their fifteen point lead. However the ball was fumbled forwards, denying himself a hat trick.

This was short lived as their lead was increased a few minutes later when Waterloo crossed for the seventh time. This time the try came a bit too easily when their flanker, who had been one of their standout performers, used a dummy runner on his outside to score. The conversion was scored, Waterloo led 21-43.

Despite the point’s difference, the game felt a lot closer. The introduction of Ben Bodinham caused Waterloo’s defence immediate problems, as the winger made his mark almost immediately, finishing off a fantastic team move. The move started on the half way line and after a series of passes, the winger found himself fending off an attempted tackle to score Burn’s best try of the game, the conversion successful. Try number eleven.

Three minutes later and Burnage were in once again- scoring their fifth of the game. Another substitute, this time Jamie Redmond crossed the line following an excellent line which was too good for Waterloo’s defence to resist. Once again Rhys added the extras, reducing the difference to ten.

Waterloo continued striving forward, playing at times very applaudable rugby, and widened their lead with ten minutes remaining. This time their number 8 finished off a forwards move and with the extras, made the scores 33-50 in favour of the visitors.

Although a comeback was looking increasingly unlikely, Burnage never gave up. From a scrum just outside the 22, Burnage’s backs switched the ball from left to right superbly where Josh Miller was to score in the corner, finishing off another smooth-running move. Try number fourteen!

When Waterloo converted their ninth try of the game two minutes remaining, the reality of the result started to kick in for the two sides. Waterloo’s second half substitute finished off a fine solo try after his sidestep gave him a free yard of space to sprint clear, totalling the visitors tally to fifty-seven.

The final whistle was marked with a mixture of jubilant and very much relieved celebrations from our opponents however for ourselves, a real hard defeat to take as on another day scoring thirty-eight points would be enough for a win. It was just one of those games that was simply quite remarkable!

Considering this game was between two teams battling relegation, you would be forgiven to thinking as a neutral you had turned up to a top of the table clash with the attacking display- having witnessed a total of ninety-five points scored across fifteen tries! Full Time: Burnage 38-57 Firwood Waterloo

Author: Thomas Anderson