Woodrush 43 Burntwood 5
Midlands Senior Vase quarter-final
SATURDAY’S regional last eight clash in the battle for a place at Twickenham promised much as the home team met with counterparts from the northern element of the Midlands Three league tier who they had not played for a number of years.
The Staffordshire side arrived on the back of a five-game winning streak and Woodrush welcomed back James ‘Flash’ Gordon, Jake Bagby, Jack Connolly, Kris Duce, Tom Elvins and Callum Wallace to a much-altered but nonetheless strong starting line-up.
If the visitors had any doubts about the credentials of Woodrush to head their own league, these were dispersed straight from the kick-off as the home team caught the kick and nine phases later Gordon announced his return with a touchdown to match anything the Green & Whites have produced this season.
Five minutes later Josh Tomlinson slotted over a penalty and three minutes after that Gordon crossed for his brace.
It really was one-way traffic and when Anton Taylor crossed in the 24th minute it looked like a cricket score might be on the cards.
Burntwood stemmed the tide somewhat for the next ten minutes but Ed Lerna crossed on the cusp of half time to leave the home team 29 unanswered points to the good.
Quite whether Woodrush took their foot off the gas or whether it was the result a valiant response from Burntwood, one can only wonder, but the first 25 minutes of the second half saw the men from Staffordshire on the front foot entirely with the Rush defending resolutely but with very little ‘go forward’ ball of their own.
However, Woodrush defend very strongly these days and in the 70th minute a continued defensive press saw a breakaway score for Duce who showed electric pace to break clear.
This must have broken Burntwood hearts after such a long period with the ball and Jon Ford compounded their misery three minutes later by crossing once more to complete the scoring for Woodrush.
Burntwood collected a consolation score in the last minute of the game but in the end the home team ran out worthy winners and now face Melton Mowbray in the semi-finals – again at Icknield Street – on February 14.
Woodrush Director of Rugby, Keith Bagby, was full of praise for the youthful element in the team, saying: “We brought in some young and very talented guys for this game against a good side and they have done themselves and the club proud.
“I was particularly impressed by James Gordon who took his opportunity with both hands.”
Midlands Three West (South) leaders Woodrush travel to third placed Dunlop on Saturday seeking a crucial victory in their quest to win promotion.