BURNLEY responded brilliantly to last week’s defeat at Oldham by turning on the style at Holden Road last Saturday to entertain a thrilled home crowd on a bitterly cold January afternoon.
The visitors were North Manchester, and Burnley from the outset showed a positive intent, boosted by players from the successful second team.
Brian Kelly and Matt Higson led the way with good runs, with Ryan Bradley and Chris Baxendale at centre working well together, putting Matt Crowley in for an early chance, who was just stopped short of the line.
A great run by Kelly, followed by a well-judged floating pass, was taken on by Baxendale, who returned the ball to Kelly on the opposite side of the pitch for the young Irishman to score.
Shortly after, a good angled run by Matt Calvert led to the first of his three tries. Crowley added the conversion.
North Manchester responded well, but a great Ben Healy tackle snuffed out the visitors’ attack.
With Ed Taylor and Danny Marshall everywhere, there was more speed in the forwards, and shortly before the half Matt Higson was unlucky not to score after a good run.
A blistering Simon Finnan run fed the supporting Mark Hanson to cross the line, and make it 17-0 at half-time.
The locals were quickest out of the blocks in the second half.
Crowley found a chink of space and ran in from 40 yards converting his own try, before Luca Angelone crashed over, and then Matt Calvert went over after good work by Billy Ingham.
North Manchester tired after the Burnley tight five had taken its toll.
The gaps appeared and Burnley made full use of the space.
Kelly had another run, feeding the delighted Calvert, who grabbed his hat-trick.
Burnley saved the best to last as a beautiful sleight of hand by Bradley fed the supporting Adam Healy, who then fed Higson, who went under the posts.
Crowley added two second half conversions to make it 48-0.
This was a thoroughly entertaining game where the hard work in training reaped an immediate reward.
The second team lost at Rossendale - a victim of their recent success as several players earned call ups to the first team. The home team dominated the set pieces through their experienced team.
Skipper Ferguson scored the blue and golds’ first try, and Gavin Little added the second.
Ferguson converted both.
Man of the match was the returning Gavin Gregory.
The thirds went down to an experienced Preston team who built up an early lead.
A good lineout from Danny Foster, followed by a powerful Andrew Dagger run, set up Eddie Blake to crash over for Burnley’s first score as they trailed 14-5 at the half.
Preston tired in the second half, allowing Burnley more room, which Tom Cooley and Gary Dixon used well.
The pressure won a penalty and skipper Jason Bell went over to get Burnley back in the game.
Joe Hayley added a late score to increase the pressure on Preston, but an opportunist drop goal by the Hoppers fly half won the day for the visitors 18-15.
The senior colts had a useful win at Bury in a very close game.
In a tight first half, only the Burnley fly half’s boot separated the sides.
Burnley upped their game and after good forward pressure Ashley Hancock scored a converted try.
Late on Bury hit back with their own try, but the youngsters held on for a deserved victory.
On Saturday the firsts face Bolton at home, the seconds and thirds are at Aspull and Fleetwood - all 2-15 p.m. kick-offs, all support welcome.
On Sunday, the tags/Under 11s/13s face North Ribblesdale, the Under 16s face Leigh, all at 11 a.m., and the Under 19s take on Toc H at 2 p.m.