UTTOXETER claimed the scalp of Midlands Three West (North) high-fliers Burntwood following one of their best performances of the season on Saturday.
Uttoxeter took the lead inside 10 minutes following some end-to-end rugby.
From a scrum inside Burntwood’s 22, Paul Milward broke open.
He ran across the field, drawing the defence before spinning out to James Gill.
The winger then accelerated before crashing through the last tackler to touch down in the far left corner.
Burntwood struck back with a penalty when Uttoxeter were penalised for hands in the ruck to reduce the lead to 5-3.
Uttoxeter hit back when Gill added his second try, finishing off an excellent counter-attack from the hosts.
As the furious pace continued, the visitors made ground, but when one of their forwards broke through they attempted to off-load inside Uttoxeter’s 22.
The ball landed at the feet of Alex Crisp, who put Lewis Bain into a gap.
Bain sprinted up the left wing before cutting back inside.
He rounded a defender, continued infield, drew the cover and then popped out to Gill.
Gill accelerated away and headed for the far corner.
He broke through the full-back’s tackle and ran infield to touch the ball down.
Milward added the extras to give Uttoxeter a 12-3 lead.
Burntwood continued their aggressive style of play and pushed into Uttoxeter’s half once again.
Their flanker broke through Town’s midfield and headed for the line.
He had support but attempted to go for the line himself, only for full-back Ben Gallimore to put in a crunching tackle in what could have been a pivotal moment for a potential Burntwood revival.
Uttoxeter’s pack repeatedly crashed the ball infield, with Dave Chell and Pete Allen making a number of breaks forward.
Bruce Mustard then took the ball on again and broke through a tackle.
He made the off-load and following quick hands from Uttoxeter, the ball went to Gill, who shot forward and crashed through two Burnwood tacklers.
He dived for the line to touch down with an outstretched arm for his hat-trick, but was denied as the referee was unable to determine whether the ball had been grounded.
With Uttoxeter inside Burntwood’s 22, they continued to pile on the pressure and the scrum yielded a series of penalties.
Milward tapped and Rob Armett smashed over the gain line.
However, Burntwood were able to steal possession and cleared their lines.
After wasting one opportunity, Uttoxeter got into a good position once again and Burntwood conceded a penalty for offside.
With advantage being played Milward knocked over a super drop goal from 30 metres to extend Uttoxeter’s advantage to 15-3.
Uttoxeter scored one final try in the first half.
Allen broke down the right and with Mustard and Rich Ufton on hand to ruck out, Town generated quick ball.
Milward chipped over the top and James Williams chased on, only to be taken out off the ball.
The referee headed to the posts and awarded a penalty try to give Uttoxeter a 20-3 lead at the break.
The game continued in the same fashion in the second period – with both sides enjoying chances.
Milward missed two penalty attempts for Uttoxeter before the visitors began to edge back into the game.
Their fly-half knocked over three penalties in 10 minutes to close the gap to 20-12 after an hour’s play.
Burntwood then pushed into Uttoxeter half and had a number of phases, pounding the hosts’ line.
Uttoxeter held firm and the visitors were initially kept out.
Following a break up the hosts’ right flank, Burntwood headed infield only for the attack to be halted by Gallimore.
The visitors continued to apply the pressure and Uttoxeter conceded a penalty 10 metres out.
Burntwood took a quick tap and their flanker smashed through Uttoxeter’s defence to crash over in the corner.
In recent weeks Uttoxeter have fallen away in the final 20, and Burntwood were sensing a change in momentum with just three points now separating the two sides.
From the restart Burntwood failed to claim the ball and a sliced kick sent the ball cross-field and bobbling loose.
Match-day captain Jack Conlon showed excellent awareness and reacted to the kick.
The powerful flanker claimed the loose ball and cut an angle towards the corner, slicing through the Burntwood defence.
The cover failed to catch him and Conlon dived over the line in the far left corner.
Alex Crisp was unlucky with the touch conversion to keep the score at 25-17.
Burntwood scored a penalty to make the score 25-20 with 10 minutes to play.
The visitors had opportunities but at vital moments they faltered, while Uttoxeter held on before Crisp was able to kick the ball out to prompt the final whistle.