Upton 10 Woodrush 36
Midlands Three West (South)
LEADERS Woodrush gave Upton the respect they deserved and it paid off on Saturday as the men from Icknield Street secured another valuable victory to cement top spot.
Despite sitting in the bottom half of the table, Upton have recorded some resounding victories at their Old Street home this season and Woodrush travelled to one of the more picturesque away venues knowing this would be no easy task.
The game started as something of an arm-wrestle, with the referee choosing to penalise anything and everything and therefore reducing the possibilities for either side to play flowing rugby.
Nevertheless, after 15 minutes Woodrush maintained some sustained midfield pressure and Steve Smart burst through on to a miss-pass to carve the home defence open.
Desperate defence nearly kept Woodrush out but excellent support play from Ed Lerna saw him receive the final pass and go over between the posts for the Green & Whites, converted by Josh Tomlinson.
The tide of penalties turned dramatically away from the visitors for the next ten minutes and a powerful break by the home No 8 MacFarlane led to centre Keyte dummying his way over the line to register an unconverted home score.
It took until the cusp of half time for Woodrush to register again but it was a magnificent score, as the ball moved through several pairs of hands before the ever-reliable Smart dabbed down between the posts again to turn the teams around at half time with Woodrush 14-5 to the good.
The second half started much like the first and it took until the 67th minute for Woodrush to register again, this time through the boot of Tomlinson.
It was clear then which the fitter team was and indeed who had the stronger bench and a flurry of tries followed in the last ten minutes of the game.
Matt Playford for Woodrush stretched his not inconsiderable frame over from a series of forward drives and then a trademark Ed Gardiner miss-pass behind his centres found Smart again who bagged his hat-trick by outpacing the remaining defence to add the all-important bonus point for the leaders.
Upton responded well and blindside flanker Dunwell burst through some weak tackling by the visitors to score a well deserved try but the final say came from the impressive Mike ‘Zammo’ Loughrey who, following up a turnover in the home 22 by Jake Bagby, sprinted clear to score.
Director of Rugby Keith Bagby was particularly impressed by the contribution of Tomlinson in the scrum half role and Loughrey, who brought considerable steel to the Woodrush forward effort in the second half.
However, he saved greatest praise for the mercurial talents of Woodrush full back Smart, adding: “Some of the things he gets up to on a rugby pitch are indefensible.”
Woodrush, a point above second placed Dunlop, host bottom placed Manor Park on Saturday.