UTTOXETER RFC lost their first home game of the new season as Handsworth held on for a 15-11 win at Oldfields.
The Town slipped up after beating Edwardians 25-23 on the opening day of Midlands Three West (North).
Winger James Gill says Uttoxeter need to adapt to a better standard of rugby after missing opportunities to open the season with back-to-back wins.
“We played some very good rugby, particularly in the second half,” said the experienced wide-man.
“We were able to impose our patterns of play and it worked as we repeatedly got ourselves into good positions, but we let ourselves down as we were unable to convert the opportunities into points.
“We’re also learning that we cannot get away with making mistakes – at least one of their tries could have been prevented if we’d reacted to the situation fast enough and that certainly would have made a difference to the result.
“The margins are narrower at this level and we need to stay focused for the full 80 minutes.”
Handsworth missed an early opportunity to take the lead when their kicker missed a straightforward penalty after Town were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck.
Uttoxeter, missing captain Matt Nance with a knee injury, were then caught offside but Handsworth’s kicker again missed a very presentable chance.
Town then took the lead as Paul Milward slotted a 35-metre penalty after Handsworth were punished for an infringement at the breakdown.
Handsworth seemed to come to life and took the lead with an unconverted try down Uttoxeter’s right.
It came after Town were penalised at the breakdown, with the visitors kicking into their half and setting up a driving maul.
A few quick phases through their pack sucked the hosts’ defence in and Handsworth got numbers out wide to score on 20 minutes.
The lead lasted just five minutes, though, as Uttoxeter hit back with a try of their own.
Breaks from Pete Allen and Andy Pooley took them deep into the Handsworth half before a wayward pass allowed the visitors to gather behind their try line.
However, a dire attempted clearance was taken by Tom Gallimore 35m out and, after he chipped over the backline, he was tackled off the ball.
Milward surprised everyone by taking a quick tap penalty before spinning the ball out for a flying Gill to score.
Soon after, the contest again see-sawed, with Handsworth’s No 8 crashing over following a line-out in Uttoxeter’s 22.
The visitors made things worse for Town with a third try before half-time - with Uttoxeter only having themselves to blame.
They did not roll away in the tackle and Handsworth took a quick tap penalty. Despite Bruce Mustard putting in a tackle, the visitors were able to offload and take a 15-8 lead into half-time.
At the break Craig Goodall was replaced by Laurence Paull in the back row, with Town going on to dominate the second half.
If it was not for repeated handling errors they would have won the match.
Milward missed a tough penalty on 45 minutes after Handsworth were penalised for not releasing in the ruck.
He made amends with a kick on the hour to cut the deficit to four points.
Uttoxeter began to play with more drive as they could see the game was there for the taking.
Allen, Tim Carr and James Williams all made breaks into Handsworth’s half but repeatedly Town were penalised for going off their feet in the rucks, meaning the territory could not be turned into points.
Uttoxeter rang in the changes, with Steve Woolley and Jim Holmes entering the fray.
Handsworth kicked deep to find Town’s Greg Buchanan in space and the young winger sprinted the ball back infield and broke through a tackler before being brought down.
Uttoxeter were awarded a penalty and Milward kicked into the corner in the search for a try to snatch the victory.
From the line-out, Allen broke again and crashed through a defender, but this time he was penalised for not releasing the ball.
Handsworth were able to clear their lines with the final play to hold on for victory.
Match Sponsor Julian Beattie of Vital Business Communications selected Allen as man of the match.