Somerset Premier
Old Redcliffians II 3, Burnham-on-Sea 59

UNLIKE Liverpool’s footballers, Burnham-on-Sea RFC scrambled over the finish line just in time - with English rugby suspended just days after the Stags had secured the Somerset Premier title.

As the coronavirus storm clouds gathered, Burnham knew that victory away to bottom side Old Redcliffians 2nd XV would see them crowned champions.

Victory was duly secured, to cap a remarkable campaign which has seen the Stags win 21 out of 22 league games this season.

As might have been expected given the sides’ respective league positions, the visitors made a fast start and led 5-0 through Will Hopkins’ try out wide.

Old Reds cut the gap to two points with a penalty, but they would never get any closer than that, as the Stags galloped off into the distance in pursuit of the title.

Just moments after the penalty, Hopkins went over for his second try, and with Tim Piper converting, it was 12-3.

Five minutes after that Sam Wall charged over, and just two minutes later Hopkins had his hat-trick try.

Piper converted both, Burnham led 26-3, and the bonus point - if not the win - was in the bag.

A fine team move ended with Nick Mcken scoring the Stags’ fifth try, again converted.

Not content with adding the extras to his team’s tries, Piper then grabbed one of his own, after an audacious show and go, and converted to make it 40-3 at half-time.

Not content with his first-half hat-trick, Hopkins crossed for his fourth try of the afternoon, with Piper’s conversion making it 47-3 to the visitors.

Scott Havercroft joined in the fun with an unconverted try, and Sam Lewis put the icing on the cake after slipping a couple of tackles to score.

Piper’s conversion brought the final score to 59-3, and with that Burnham were crowned champions.

They now have an unassailable 22-point lead over second-placed Nailsea & Backwell, with just four games remaining of the league season.

Exactly when those four games will be played is anyone’s guess, after the RFU’s decision to suspend all rugby activity - matches and training sessions - on Monday night.

Burnham had been due to host Stothert & Pitt this coming Saturday, but that game will not be played until April at the earliest, with “unnecessary social contact” and mass gatherings off the table due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, the Stags can reflect on a brilliant season - and an incredible turnaround from their relegation from Western Counties West in 2017/18 (having won only four of 26 league games).

Burnham will be back at Western Counties level once more next season, whenever the 2020/21 campaign is able to commence.