Dunlop 17 Woodrush 8
Midlands Three West (South)
WOODRUSH arrived at Burnaby Road on Saturday knowing a victory would cement their position at the top of the league but defeat, given that third placed Bedworth were expected to take the points at Ledbury, would likely leave them in third place.
Therefore a highly committed performance was required, given that The Rush had only just sneaked a win at home to the impressive Coventry outfit.
However, it was Dunlop who emerged victorious to move to the summit, although Woodrush remain in the top two following Ledbury’s superb 47-0 victory over Bedworth.
From the first whistle it was clear this was going to be a full-blooded encounter with no quarter being given by either team.
However, Dunlop, with a howling gale at their backs, played for field position and engineered a lineout opportunity ten metres from the visitors’ line. The catch and drive, despite the initial sack on the catcher by the visitors, was well managed and Dunlop crossed for their first converted score on ten minutes.
A strong break out of defence by Jon Ford promised much but the ball failed to get out to the waiting players on the overlap to the left and the move petered out on the Woodrush ten-metre line.
The game was very much in the balance with some huge defensive hits by both teams until a soft penalty was offered up by the Green & Whites for not releasing in the tackle and the easy penalty was grateful accepted by Dunlop to give them a ten-point lead.
Woodrush responded with some breathtaking rugby, with the home side stretching every sinew in defence to keep them out. An easily kickable penalty was spurned for the tap and go but the visitors were held up inches short when the ball went quickly out to Andrew Poole on the left wing.
So, at the turnaround, there was a ten-point advantage to Dunlop which, given the strength of the wind, did not seem to be any kind of mountain to climb.
However, a soft knock on from the restart led to continued pressure form the home team, who enjoyed general supremacy at the scrummage all afternoon.
Playing a much tighter game than in the first half, Dunlop managed the ball well to cross again from the back of a driving maul, with the eight breaking and brushing off the attention of the Woodrush right winger to cross between the posts.
The visitors lost their hooker at this point as Lewis Lawlor took a brutal blow to the head from a stray knee – which resulted in a hospital visit which thankfully showed all was well – and which somewhat disrupted the flow, but nonetheless the Green & Whites charged back into the fray, earning and slotting over a penalty through Josh Tomlinson and then after sustained pressure a trademark touchdown by Titch Thomas put the visitors within reach of the home side.
However, it was not to be, as a spear tackle on Woodrush No 8 Dan Lavander with ten minutes to go resulted in a dislocated shoulder and, with Woodrush running out of resources, the home side closed the game out for a deserved but narrow victory.
It was a disappointing defeat for Woodrush but their commitment was never in question and, with Bedworth suffering a shock heavy defeat, The Rush stay in the top two.
However, that result proved what a terrific league this is, with no game able to be taken for granted, so there are likely to be a few more twists and turns in the promotion plot before this season ends.
With just one point separating the top three, Woodrush host Shipston-on-Stour on Saturday.