Woodrush 40 Dunlop 22
Midlands Three West (South)
WOODRUSH climbed into fourth place thanks to a second successive bonus point victory as their Coventry visitors were put to the sword on Saturday.
The hosts were bolstered by the return of Dave Hawkins in the second row who added lineout presence to the pack and the game could not have started more positively for the home side as, from the kick-off, a fine defensive press saw the away stand-off miscue his clearance kick sideways.
At 6ft 4in, James Evans, standing at outside centre, reached far above his opposite number and touched down with less than a minute on the clock to open the scoring for the Rush.
Dunlop regathered the kick-off and, as was their trademark for the remainder of the game, drove the ball narrow to extract a penalty opportunity which was narrowly missed.
Woodrush did not adequately clear their lines and somewhat softly coughed up a further penalty chance for the away side, closer and straighter-on to the posts, which Dunlop this time gladly converted to pull themselves within a couple of points.
With the breeze at their backs, the home side kicked cleverly for position and quick lineout possession off the top saw Tom Waters cut back in from inside centre and step brilliantly over the line to increase the Rush lead.
Dunlop were somewhat startled by the speed with which the home side were operating and failed to adequately respond when their clearance kick saw Titch Thomas, the impressive home nine, receive the ball from a sharp break and offload from Matt Culley at full back.
With 30 metres to go, an adventurous dummy threw the away defence off balance and Thomas crashed over in the corner after 20 minutes to further extend the lead.
Dunlop were nothing if not dogged and responded with a try of their own on 25 minutes as a result of their powerful driving play which gave them cause for hope, but it was in the broken play game that Woodrush were excelling and a fine interchange of hands saw the impressive Rush eight Lewis Lawlor scamper over to bag the bonus point on the half hour mark.
Once again the Woodrush backs moved the ball quickly and Culley, cutting into the line from full back, carried the ball cleverly to offer lock Hawkins, running an intelligent line back infield, a clear run in between the posts.
With five tries to their name and a 33-8 interval lead, Woodrush could have been forgiven for expecting to cut loose in the second half and secure a cricket score, but Dunlop had other ideas.
It was somewhat of a re-run of the Coventry Welsh fixture the previous weekend as Dunlop reverted to their natural game, keeping the ball cleverly and never extending it beyond a ten-man game. Exciting it was not, but effective it was as Dunlop kept the home team camped in their home 22 for the next half an hour.
Inevitably the visitors scored as decision after decision seemed to go against the home side who were trying to play expansive rugby but simply could not get the ball away without sanction.
Dunlop scored again on 70 minutes and it seemed as though they might even recover a losing bonus point until veteran fly half Steve Smart, on for the last 20 minutes, gathered a loose ball on his 22 following fine aggressive defence and sprinted nearly 80 metres to close the game out with a very fine try, reminiscent of his years in the National Leagues.
Exceptional displays, in particular by Aiden Dalton at lock and Fran Pugh at ten, were a great encouragement to this ambitious Rush side who will see this win as a major stepping stone towards pushing the top sides in this league week on week.
A challenging fixture at Ledbury awaits Woodrush on Saturday.