Tribute Somerset Premier
Burnham-on-Sea 58, Hornets 2nds 15

BURNHAM-ON-SEA welcomed local rivals Hornets 2nds to the BASC Ground on Saturday, for the opening fixture of the 2019/20 season.

The Stags produced a sublime game of rugby, with inside centre Will Hopkins bagging a hat-trick of tries.

First on the scoreboard for the home team was hooker Adam Peters, who received the ball at the back of a maul 5m out, from a lineout which was only going one way.

The game settled for a short period, with both teams sharing possession of the ball and flitting into each other’s territory.

As the Stags got into the groove, a penalty was awarded and the hosts kicked for touch, sensing another try.

Once again the lineout was won and off they went from 8m out; with the ball at the back of the maul, scrum-half Sam Lewis picked it up to dart over for the second try of the game, making it 10-0.

Hornets were not going to roll over, though, and caught the home team napping with a try out wide to cut the gap in half.

Fortunately for the Stags, their set-pieces were solid throughout the game, which set a platform to work from, and Stef Pierce scored the third try to stretch the lead back out to 15-5.

Ball possession was in the Stags’ favour, and after Lewis had opened up the visiting defence with a blistering run, Hopkins was up in support to receive the ball and bag his first try, which he converted himself.

Soon after that bonus-point try, Hopkins began to really shine with ball in hand, showing his strength and power in crashing into the Hornets defence to score his second try shortly before half-time, as the home side took a 27-5 advantage into the break.

Only a few minutes had passed in the second half when No 8 Ash Cutter spotted holes in the Hornets line and waltzed through to extend the lead with the Stags’ sixth try, which was converted.

Hornets then scored a similar try to their first, going over out wide to claw back five points, but Burnham responded with Pierce scoring his second try of the game to make it 39-10.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Hopkins was shown yellow for not releasing in the tackle, and Hornets used the man advantage to score a third try.

Nonetheless, further tries from replacement prop Ed Lewis, his brother Sam and man of the match Hopkins completed an emphatic win over their local rivals, the game finishing 58-15 in Burnham’s favour.

Burnham captain Ross McKechan said: “This was a very positive start with a strong performance.

“Our scrum and lineout were fantastic, and the forwards gave the backs a strong platform to play from.

“We looked really dangerous and were too much for them.

“We will take these positives into training this week, continue to develop some areas and get ourselves ready for Avon this Saturday, where we will be looking to right some wrongs from last year.”

Saturday’s match at Avon will start at 3pm, and will be a real test of Burnham’s ambitions of a successful season.

The Stags finished second in Somerset Premier last time out – only missing out on promotion after a play-off with Bristol Saracens – and won the Somerset Vase.

McKechan said: “We had a great season last year so it’s important that we take confidence from that and really go at it this year.

“We have a good mix of youth and experience and know that if we work hard and are accurate, we can be successful.”

As for Burnham 2nd XV, they launch their Somerset 2 South campaign this Saturday, at home to Somerton.