Burnley comeback halts U14s
A poor second half costs the U14s and hands the cup pool to Burnley
Once the thick fog which threatened to cause an unwelcome postponement lifted the game started with a good surface and a decent crowd for both sides.
A squad of 18 travelled, and the MV/Park side lined up:
1 Ollie J; 2 Charlie H; 3 Ethan; 4 Dan; 5 Azzanne; 6 Will C (c); 7 Yousef; 8 Jacob; 9 Will R; 10 Robin; 11 Alistair; 12 Cian; 13 George; 14 Ollie B; 15 Tom
Subs: Eoin; Ali; Charlie B
After a cagey, tentative start, where both sides were content to eye each other up the away side started to get on top. The pack were winning the collisions, and some good distribution from the MV halves was allowing Cian and George to make good inroads into Burnley territory. Burnley were looking to get the ball into the hands of their big forwards and their giant number 8 was showing glimpses of his pace and power, but was well marshalled by the MV back row, with both Jacob and Will making their tackles.
A reluctance to move the ball wide was all that was stopping MV from making the breakthrough but eventually Burnley won a turnover and made a good break, from their 8, his drive was stopped and eventually MV forced the Burnley attack into touch. The lineout was deep in the MV 22, and from this set piece the ball was moved quickly through the MV backs and out to Ollie B on the wing who showed great strength and determination, breaking a couple of tackles and using his fend to beat another couple of defenders before crossing the try-line. A stunning solo score, but built on foundations of crisp passing and running straight. Tom nailed a tricky conversion and the away side led by 7.
The rest of the half was all MV, but Burnley hung on, with some desperate defending, poor decision making or sloppy passing letting the away side down. A good half however and the match looked poised to see MV streak away in the second half as their side looked fitter and faster. Cian was looking threatening, and Dan made a few good breaks but a knock to Azzanne left MV without one of their main attacking weapons.
Burnley however had other ideas, and managed to slow the game down, upping their effort in the rucks and stopping the MV half backs from having the quick ball they enjoyed in the earlier period.
A midfield scrum a few minutes into the half and Burnley’s 8 picked up from the base and beat off some poor MV tackling to score close to the posts. 7-7.
Burnley were on top and the game become scrappy and increasingly played on the floor, which Burnley were now dominating. MV were also starting to get on the wrong side of the referee, and any continuity was lost as a series of knock ons and penalties prevented the MV side from exploiting their pace.
Another scrum, following a front row reshuffle and the ball went through the tunnel untouched, the ref should have reset, but didn’t and the Burnley 8 scored his second try, with more poor tackling allowing him to go over, despite protests from the MV defenders that he had been held up. 12-7 to Burnley.
The game approached the final period, and MV were reduced to 14, following a sin binning to Jacob, following an innocuous looking challenge that the referee deemed too high. Burnley’s 7 also saw yellow following a nasty challenge on Yousef and the game threatened to boil over. Ali was looking good, tackling well from 6, but the rest of the pack were flat and Burnley kept winning turnovers.
From another scrum in the MV 22 Burnley sealed their win, another pick up from 8, who for once was stopped, but his offload was picked up by another of the Burnley pack who was able to dot down on the line. The conversion was food, 19-7.
MV drove upfield from the kick off, forcing a turnover and eventually Jacob was able to score, a clever angled run taking him beyond the Burnley defence. Although he nearly had his head taken off by the last man. The conversion fell short and time was up 19-12 the final score.
Overall a really disappointing result. From a strong position MV allowed Burnley to control the tempo of the second half and play to their strengths, the normally dominant MV pack failing to secure enough ball and failing to provide the half backs with time to play, a problem compounded by a lack of control from the inside backs who looked panicked when in position. Cian was the named man of the match, some strong runs, combining well with George in the first half, and a solid defensive stint in the second despite taking a few knocks. Robin started brightly, but found space hard to come by as the first half went on. His late cameo at 13 was good however and he can be pleased with his efforts. Up front the Jacob was the pick of the pack, unlucky to see yellow, but his decision making in defence did let him down for the first Burnley try. Ali had a good game when he joined the fray at half time, making his tackles.