Chargers vs Ashton Bears
With the unveiling of their brand new playing strip for 2021, the excited and motivated Burtonwood Chargers, welcomed the unbeaten Ashton Bears to Fir Tree Lane. The North West Mens League division 5 South & East fixture, was played in a searing heat, and both sides displayed an incredible tenacity, and mental toughness to continue to demonstrate copious amounts of efforts from the first to the eightieth minute. Both sides looked nervous and edgy to start the game, not really completing sets as well as they should be, but both being tenacious in defense. Eventually the tough Ashton nut did crack, when some smart late movement from former Warrington Wolves, and England Academy player George Moore asked too many questions of the isolated Bear defenders and they opened up to allow the impressive half back to score his first four points of the season.
Ashton were not to be outdone though, and very quickly replied to level the scores at 4 - 4. Some outstanding defense from debutant Chris Barker kept Burtonwood in the game, and ultimately turned out to be a key, game changing moment. Just before the stroke of half time left centre Jamie McConnell capitalised on the Barker strong defense by demonstrating an equal amount of determination by an outstanding running line to crash over by the posts, Ryan Droughton converted to allow the Chargers to take a 10 - 4 lead in the half time break.
With the wise words of coaches Graham Southern, Nick Mascord, and Lee Cunningham ringing in the playing groups ears from half time. The determination was clear for all to see as the Chargers nearly opened the scoring when big hitting prop was denied four points by the referee, the following set saw a super sweeping passing play, where players drew, their defender in, and passed to their team mate, to create an overlap on the outside where centre Troy Prince dropped in, in the corner. A real testament to coach Graham Southern's sessions where he has encouraged this exact style of playing in. A fantastic touchline conversion by skipper Joe Bruckshaw saw the Chargers lead stretch to 16 - 4. The next try was now critical to the outcome of the game, would we see the young Ashton Bears creating a come back? or, would our trusted Chargers stretch their lead by scoring the next four pointer?
Half back George Moore was becoming a bigger influence on the game with every passing set, pushing his team around the Fir Tree Lane pitch, probing into the Bears defensive line, and achieving invaluable repeat sets for the Purple, Yellow, and Whites. Indeed it was Moore's long pass to willow the whisp full back, Joe Purcell, that set up the next try, when Purcell then danced his way through the Wigan based outfit defenders to score his by now customary game try, Burtonwood now gained an un-assailable 22-4 lead.
Confidence was now starting to blossom for the league new-boys and right centre Jake Boardman capitalised on this when he broke through from the half way line. Boardman surrounded by his team mates in support, put the ball down under the black dot to give an easy conversion for Ryan Droughton, and the Chargers had very quickly put themselves in a fantastic position to go on an collect the two league points on offer, at 28-4.
Ashton were not for quitting though, and their effort, never better exemplified, and demonstrated than by the never say die display performed by their hooker, Jack Graham, was rewarded when after several line breaks, and challenges of the Chargers scramble defensive capabilities, when their left centre went in for a well worked try. 28-8 with little time remaining.
The last words of the day was to be awarded to the Chargers when an exquisite pass out of the back door from Joe Purcell allowed the effervescent Jordan Ross to go in for the final score of the game, just before the final hooter.
Final score Burtonwood Chargers 32 Ashton Bears 8
Chargers v Waterhead Warriors 'A'
The Chargers welcomed the Division 5 South & East table toppers, Waterhead 'A', to Fir Tree Lane on Saturday for what promised to be a fantastic fixture for any attending supporters.
Waterheads opening fixtures had been a very successful period of time for the Oldham based club, they had scored an avalanche of points, so much so that their goal difference coming into the game was over 250 points from just 3 matches. Clearly their attack was a very potent well oiled machine, with a defense that was as tight as one of the Ship Canal locks.
As expected the opening encounters was a very tense, nip and tuck affair, where both teams were testing one another out. The understanding of the Waterhead potency was very clear to see almost immediately, the foundations of which was based around strong running, and fantastic levels of support, and that push from their team mates always asks a lot of questions of any opposition defensive pattern. The standard of play that they was delivering was a well drilled team effort, and one that fortunately for us the Chargers came up answers to those Waterhead questions more often than not.
That bravery from the 'Wooders defenders was rewarded on the 20 minute mark, when right centre Jake Boardman capitalised on a fantastic change of direction from Ryan Droughton to go in unchallenged to give the Chargers a 4-0 lead.
The Waterhead response was swift, and ruthless, as their stand off took it right up to the Chargers coal face, and a nice deception play, fed the ever dangerous back row forward (#16) who crashed through. The conversion took the Warriors into a 6-4 lead.
In the build up to the game there had been huge disruption's to Burtonwood's preparation's, the middle channel forwards had been decimated through injuries, illness, and work commitments, which had meant a massive re-shuffling within the forward pack. Usual Second Row forwards, Jack O'Neill, and Club Skipper Joe Bruckshaw, both had to move inside and toil their efforts from Prop, and Loose forward respectively. Hooker Lloyd Feather alternated into the second row with debutant Josh Whitham giving us a very mobile but gritty pack to compete with the Warriors efforts. Finally, just moments before the game kicked off, starting hooker Danny Brown turned his ankle which took him out of the game, but up stepped Jordan Ross, usually a super sub who brings a massive impact against tired defenders, he had to change his tactics for today now though. Biding his time through the opening quarter of the game proved its value as not long before the Half time whistle, the diminutive dummy half saw his opportunity and exploded, and then danced his way through the Waterhead attempted tackels to score under the black dot. Stand Off, Ryan Droughton converted to make the score 10-6 to the Chargers.
Not to be outdone, the Warriors attacking machine kicked into gear again and some impressive attack from their left edge levelled the scores for the second time, as they went in near the Burtonwood right hand corner post. Things couldn't be much more tense as the referee, Mr Jim Fallon, pursed his lips to blow the half time whistle. Burtonwood Chargers 10 - Waterhead Warriors 10
The weather conditions had been in the Oldham clubs favour in the opening stanza, with the bright sun, and strong breeze being in their backs, and the scores being level, gave a sense of encouragement to the young Chargers team for the on-coming second half. A rally call from coach Graham Southern to cut out the soft penalties, and handling errors gave a real sense of focus, and purpose to the team as they set up to receive the kick off to re-start this top of the table clash.
From the opening set of 6, that encouragement gave good rewards to Burtonwood as it culminated in serving soldier, Jake Boardman, crashed through to give his team a 16-10 lead following Droughton's conversion. Being aware of the patterns of scoring that had so far ensued during the game, orders came onto the field off the bench, that if opportunity arose, we look to convert a penalty to make it a two score game between the two sides. Shortly after a penalty was awarded for a high shot on Half back George Moore. Ryan Droughton stepped up and converted to take the scores to 18-10.
This kicked the opposition into gear, and after two quick tries it saw the Warriors take a 20-18 lead with the final quarter of the game looming upon us. This was going to be a very real test of the fledgling Chargers club's ability to deal with adversity, and a challenge to their previously unblemished record, who would stand up to be counted? Was there a difference maker in the squad in the absence of club vice captain Joe Purcell, or regular left centre Jamie McConnell?... Come'th the hour, come'th the man as the 150 strong crowd rose as one when debutant back row forward Josh Whitham, made his impact by scoring his first four points of the game when raced onto a George Moore pass. Charger's were now back in the lead 22-20. It was a lead that they were not to surrender.
The crowd were now buzzing, with a very real, and tangible, energy to their hopes and expectations for the purple, yellow, and whites the pre-game nervousness of what to expect from the game, was ow turning into a very real possiblity that the two league points on offer was going into the bank of Burtonwood. The coaching staff, along with former Burtonwood legendary player, Andy Tickle, had recognised the advantage that right edge had ove the defending Waterhead left side. Josh Whitham, at back row, and the irrepressible Boardman, at centre were proving to be amazing options to the half back pairing of Moore, and Droughton. Perhaps the biggest influence, and many peoples eyes the man of the match for the game, Ryan Price Jones, smashed his way through the, by now, tiring Warriors defensive efforts, and after making a 40 yeard break he then fed the duracell battery bunny that is Jake Boardman, who then hit overdrive, and raced away from the covering defenders for a spectacular try that had started at the Chargers own 20 meter line. Loose Forward, Joe Bruckshaw, had now took over the kicking duties and duly converted to take the chargers to an unassailable 28-20 lead.
The scoring was rounded off by a tenacious, 'never give in', effort by the newly transferred Whitham who capitalised on a Warriors error to kick through and pounce upon the ball once it had crossed the opposition try line.
Best for Burtonwood was Prop Forward's Ryan Price Jones, and Jack O'Neill, centre Jake Boardman, and the little general George Moore.
Burtonwood Chargers 34 Waterhead Warriors 'A' 20