A large crowd watched Burton put on their best performance of the season in this close encounter against high-flying Bournville and although the result did not go Burton’s way the determination and spirit shown by the home players at last showed that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Burton’s victory starved supporters.
With a side showing changes from the previous week’s debacle at Walsall, namely Gavin Cole at flyhalf with Ian Gilmour
moving out to the wing and the evergreen and willing Jono Edwards came in a second row Burton hoped to gain some resilience in defence and improve attacking options. So with Burton kicking-off Dave Archer
kicked deep into Bournville territory and quick follow-up by the Burton players saw Bournville struggle to clear as they just managed to gain control and win a scrum on their twenty-two. They quickly spun the ball out wide and with players in support soon created an overlap and outpace Burton’s defence as they moved the ball the length of the field and scored in the corner and take the lead 0-5 after just one minutes play.
With the visitors having score fifty points in all their previous game things looked very ominous for Burton and its supporters, but Burton had other ideas. A Burton penalty from the restart saw Archer kick into the opposition twenty-two and from the lineout Jon Edwards
took the ball of the top to feed Darryl Banton
. He spun the ball out down the line and Lewis Brooks
made a half break to release winger Danny Smith
who dived over in the corner to level the scores at 5-5 after just three minutes.
Bournville used their big forwards to make powerful bursts but Burton’s defence, with Dave Fitchett, Kelvin Browne
, Craig Dutton
and Jon Edwards
to the fore, met them head on and stopped them quickly. A penalty against Burton saw the opposition take play into the Burton twenty-two but no straight at the lineout gave Burton a scrum. Burton’s pack was very solid against its much heavier opposition and at times drove the opposition backwards for Dutton and Banton to continually harass the scrum half. Cole kicked clear but his kick was partially charged down, but fortunately Brooks was on hand to recover and race fifty metres forward before being stopped. Bournville conceded a penalty and up stepped Archer to put the ball over the bar from forty metres out and put his side 8-5 in the lead after less than ten minutes play.
Burton now began to increase their pressure and Cole broke to within fifteen metres of the line but having ignored men outside he took ball into contact where the rapid support work of the Burton pack saw the ball quickly recycled to Brooks. The chase for his kick ahead was just won by the Bournville fullback and he hurried put the ball in touch for a Burton lineout. Cole again broke clear to link with Fitchett and Browne as he was again tackled they recycled the ball out to Banton and Gilmour who inter-passed to take play to ten metres out. Josh Cartwight climbed high to take the lineout and as the forwards drove towards the line Nathan Taylor
was forced into touch. The resulting clearance saw Burton awarded a penalty just inside their own half in front of the posts, but a massive attempt to convert the penalty by Archer just dropped short.
Burton were now very much in the ascendancy winning plenty of ball but at times poor lines of running saw the ball dropped or players looking where to go as their options dissolved. An injury to Matt Tivey
saw him replaced by Kev Birt as Burton at times appeared guilty of trying to force the play and this led to turnovers and knock-ons. This caused frustration and saw Burton begin to give away penalties and these allowed the visitors to maintain possession and better field position than they deserved. Tackles also began to be missed and on more than one occasion only the intervention of Browne and Fitchett saved the day.
A dubious penalty against Browne for playing the ball when off his feet saw the visiting kicker display his accuracy and prowess as he slotted the ball between the uprights to level the scores at 8-8. With less than five minutes of the half to play Bournville increased their efforts and more marauding bursts by their big forwards tested the Burton defence, but some gallant defending kept the home line intact until the whistle sounded.
Bournville restarted and as Dutton waited for the ball a visiting forward charged forward to leap into him in an attempt to get the ball in the ensuing melee Cole was yellow carded after stupidly running forty metres to get involved in the action. So for the next ten minutes Burton were a man short against a team who had previously shown how to score tries and this they did as within two minutes a cross kick saw their winger winning the race against Burton’s hooker Taylor and diving over in the corner for an unconverted try to put his side in the lead at 8-13.
Fortunately Burton’s battling fourteen showed plenty of spirit and effort as they limited their guests to just this one try whilst being a man down. Indeed Brookes and Dan Smith took play to the opposition with telling breaks that were well supported by Gilmour, Banton and Sam Smith
. Just before Cole returned to the fray a penalty in front of the posts to Burton saw Archer’s attempt veer off to the right.
As the tempo dropped Bournville began to utilise their heavy forwards even more and started to get a bigger share of possession, but with Burton reverting back to normal lineout formations Edwards again took a ball and Banton wasted no time in spinning the ball out wide but as Brooks broke clear his pass to Gilmour was inches forward to stop a promising move. Bourville’s kicker was again on target from another Burton indiscretion and his sides lead increased to 8-16.
But Burton were still equal to the task and another good take by Edwards saw Banton break down the blindside but his kick ahead was just too strong and beat all the chasers. A high tackle on Danny Smith
saw Cole put the ball deep into the visitors twenty-two, but the lineout was lost and Bournville stormed back up the pitch. Another Burton lineout win saw Dan Smith get the ball out wide to race seventy-metres towards the opposition line and as he was tackled he found Mark Ovens in support to mark his return to Burton colours with a try as he ran in from fifteen metres out. So with five minutes to play Burton trailed by six pints at 13-16 and a try would give them a deserved victory.
Great runs by Browne, Dutton, Birt, Edwards and Cartwright took play forward and the ball was then passed to Brooks who passed inside to Ovens. But he was penalised for not releasing and the Bournville kicker extended his sides lead to 13-19 and Burton now needed a converted try to get the victory. A lineout ten metres from the opposition line did provide Burton with the opportunity but wrong options and hesitation saw the chance lost and despite a frantic last attack by Brooks, Ovens and Smith that saw the latter forced into touch Bournville hung on for a win, but will travel home knowing that their unbeaten start to the season could well have met its Waterloo at Peel Croft. While for Burton plenty of positives with much improved and defence that shows at last things are starting to go in the right direction.