Burton rounded off this season’s home league campaign with a six try victory over a stubborn Ludlow side that just wouldn’t lay down, but while their heavy forwards battled away to get plenty of possession and ground they were woefully short of ideas in the backs when trying to attack. The win was just what Burton needed to help boost their confidence for their last league game at Worcester next week and the County Cup Final against Tamworth at Lichfield on the 13th May.
The game started with all Burton pressure but a strange abundance of penalties against them saw Ludlow claw their way back into the Burton half. An opposition centre tried to break Burton’s defence but a great tackle by fullback Sam Smith
put down on the seat of his pants. From the breakdown Ludlow again tried to move the ball but poor passing saw Dave Archer
anticipate the pass and intercept to race eighty metres to touch down under the posts and convert his own try to give Burton a 7-0 lead after just six minutes play.
From the restart Burton stormed back on the attack, but Ludlow players being allowed to stand offside in front of the back foot whenever they wanted Burton struggled to gain ground easily. But a neat blind side pass from Ben Peach
to Archer beat these offside tactics and saw the winger raced back inside around several defenders before passing to the supporting Luke Peach
, who darted through to ground the ball under the posts. Archer added the extra points and increased Burton’s lead to 14-0 with barely ten minutes gone.
The Ludlow pack stormed back from the restart and soon got to within ten metres of the Burton line with some bustling runs and quick re-cycling, helped by some strange refereeing, but at last Burton saw a decision go in their favour and Archer cleared back to halfway. From the ensuing lineout Josh Cartwright
took good ball and set his pack off on a storming rolling maul before Nathan Taylor
and Matt Tivey
broke away to set up Luke Peach
, who drew the cover before timing his pass to perfection for Lewis Brooks
to slice through and run twenty metres to score.
With Archer at last missing a conversion Burton led 19-0 and with the pack following the example set by the old heads of Jon Edwards
and Craig Dutton
the pack began to get better control of the opposition illegal, slowing tactics and began to produce better ball for the backs. Unfortunately just into injury time Dutton was wrongly yellow carded for not releasing and Ludlow opted to ignore the kickable penalty chance. Their tap penalty, though, was quickly gobbled up by Burton’s Ed Henry
and he set up an eighty metre move that saw Archer race down the touch line and as he was tackled he fed back inside to Edwards who took the ball into the opposition twenty-two. From the ruck Kev Birt produced one of his barnstorming runs that saw opposition defenders being bowled over. When stopped the ball was spun out to Brooks who spotted Smith coming in on a great line and he fed him for the fullback to race over for a try that Archer converted. This last try gave Burton a bonus point and a 26-0 lead at the break.
The second half appeared to start badly for Burton as Ludlow pressed forward and a moment of madness in the Burton twenty-two saw the ball being thrown around like a hot potato with players dropping it as Ludlow nearly scored. But thankfully, after the opposition had claimed a try, the referee gave a five yard scrum to Ludlow but a great Burton scrum saw common sense at last prevail as Peach cleared to halfway and Dutton returned to the game.
His last act saw him make a thirty yard break supported by Edwards, Henry and Tivey to take play into the opposition half. Dave Fitchett then replaced him and after a great take by Ken Archer
was soon in action as he followed his predecessor’s example and charged up field on his own to set up a great field position for Burton. From this Sam Smith
was fed down the blindside to race forty metres down the touch line for a great run but he was unfortunately tackled into touch.
‘Spud’ Taylor replaced Edwards in the backrow with Fitchett moving to No 8, but an injury to Ben Peach
saw Alex Reeve
come on to play wing with Archer trying his hand at scrum half. While one has to admire his courage for taking on this role it’s safe to say he won’t ever be selected there as players outside him guessed where the ball would travel. Taking advantage of all these changes Ludlow at last moved the ball wide for their winger to score a converted try in the corner after some poorly organised Burton defence.
Having moved the ball out wide once the visitors tried it again only for them to fail as Luke Upton
, playing out of position on the wing, snatched up a loose ball after Lawrence Betty
’s tackle to outstrip the covering defence with a sixty metre run to score under the posts. Archer again added the extra points and Burton led 33-7 with ten minutes to play.
The rest of the match was all Burton as Ludlow were forced to bring on weaker players as their first choices were either injured or fatigued and this led to Burton gaining more and more control with the back over running their earlier stubborn opponents. ‘Spud’ Taylor, Ftchett and Henry controlled loose play while Birt and Tivey went on several surging runs but better timing of passes could have seen more tries for the Burton three-quarter. One great forty metre burst from Tivey saw him smash his way forward staying on his feet to allow the backrow to quickly re-cycle the ball to Peach to feed Brooks who swivelled and twisted his way through the opposition to race thirty metres and score under the posts. This allowed Archer to have the last say in the match as his conversion sailed over the bar to give Burton a 40-7 victory that they thoroughly deserved.