Somerset Premier
Oldfield Old Boys 11, Burnham-on-Sea 27

BURNHAM-ON-SEA strengthened their grip on the Somerset Premier title race, with a 27-11 victory away to Oldfield Old Boys.

The Stags set sail across the Mendip Hills on a very wet Saturday for this top-of-the-table clash, albeit their second-placed hosts had lost their previous fixture, against Wells the week before.

Oldfield had the upper hand in the first 10 minutes, with more possession and a kicking gameplan to keep Burnham in their own half.

When the Stags managed to retain the ball, they controlled the game well, but the hosts’ quick defence read the ball well and an audacious pass from inside centre Richard Muskett was intercepted by the Oldfield winger, who ran from his own half to score the first try of the game.

The visitors were still being pinned back, and were 8-0 down when the home side were awarded a penalty for offside.

The Stags then came out of first gear and straight into fifth, working their way up the pitch, and quick ball was produced on the 5m line for Muskett to spin off a tackle to score.

From the restart, Oldfield’s quick backs applied pressure on the visitors deep in their 22 and were awarded a penalty for holding on in the ruck, with the ball sent between the posts for 11-5.

The Stags controlled the remainder of the half, however, by keeping possession and gaining territory.

Several phases of play were had, with the pack recycling the ball well, which allowed Sam Lewis to whip the ball out to stand-in fly-half Will Hopkins, who produced an accurate cross-field kick which Josh Holder gathered to go over for his side’s second try shortly before half-time.

Going into the second half, Burnham had now sussed out the hosts’ gameplan and starved them of the ball for long periods.

After persistent pressure deep in the opposition half they lost possession in a ruck, but then Oldfield handed it back on their own try-line, and as the ball popped out Hopkins pounced to put the Stags in the lead for the first time, 15-11.

The home side’s firepower faded as Burnham took control of the second half and proved why they are league leaders.

Skipper Ross McKechan showed his raw power to score and Alex Watkins converted to extend the lead to 22-11.

With only a few minutes remaining, Watkins made a blistering run from deep and received the ball to score the last try of the game.

Burnham’s ninth win from nine games gives them an eight-point gap over Minehead Barbarians at the top of the table, going into this Saturday’s match at home to St Bernadettes Old Boys.

Burnham captain McKechan told the Weekly News: “We started well but they scored a try against the run of play and managed to add a couple of penalties to that total.

“We responded well with two well-worked tries, leaving us behind by one at half-time.

“In the second half, we really turned the screw and dominated the collision going forward and the defence.”

McKechan added: “We forced them on to the back foot at every opportunity and started opening them up quite easily.

“We executed our gameplan really well to earn five points after a very strong performance.

“It was a great result but we are now looking forward to next week’s game, where we welcome St Bernadettes.”

Burnham 2nd XV suffered a 43-17 defeat away to Somerset 2 South’s bottom side Tor 2nds on Saturday.

Now second from bottom in the table, Burnham are due to host fifth-placed Wells 2nds this coming Saturday.