Final Kick drama
Burton fight back to take Staffs Cup
The Staffs Cup Final at Wilenhall pitched Burton against Stoke and the two teams served up a classic.
The Crofters kicked off with the slope and a considerable wind in their favour. Stoke played through a few phases but then kicked out on the full. Burton then attacked through Jack Neale before a chip ahead by Harry Titley was followed by a penalty for holding on. Eddie Nicholls took a quick tap, Titley mad a mazy run and Neale was in support to cross for a try. Dave Archer converted.
Stoke bounced back with some good attacking play. Prop Dom Musetti put in a great tackle to thwart an overlap, but a penalty was subsequently conceded and Stoke took the three points.
Ken Archer replaced Tom Murphy in the front row. Craig Dutton and Ken Archer made good carries to apply pressure but Burton lost ground after conceding a penalty at a scrummage. Stoke missed touch and Kelvin Browne ran the ball back. From a good driving maul Jack Brooks and Sam Smith combined well in the centres but the numerical advantage created was wasted. Despite the continual pressure Burton weren’t capitalising so it was the right decision to go for goal when the opportunity came and Archer made no mistake from 40 metres on the twenty minute mark.
Stoke then had a spell of possession before Alex Nesbitt and Daryl Banton, playing Wing and Full Back respectively, dealt with a difficult kick between them and Banton’s clearance took play into the Stoke half. Ken Archer got his hands on a tapped lineout before Nicholls and Dutton made ground alongside the left touchline. Jimmy Burrough and Liam Hucknall then made carries before the ball was shipped out through Brooks and Smith to Dave Archer who crossed for a brilliant team try on the right hand corner. Archer then dealt with the most difficult of angles and a swirling wind making an outstanding conversion.
A Stoke Prop was yellow carded for commenting on a decision made by the Referee. Burton piled on the pressure and Titley ghosted through for a try which Archer converted.
Musetti injured his knee after a strong carry and Murphy returned in his place. A fluent attack from Burton ended in a try for Nicholls. This time Archer couldn’t add the extra points.
Stoke attacked next and after several phases missed tackles allowed a score. The conversion took Stoke to ten points and things got worse when Stoke countered rapidly and won a penalty on the Burton twenty two which they kicked to the corner. Burton forced the driving maul laterally and turned the ball over but were then held up. Burton were under massive pressure through a series of three scrums and eventually the Referee awarded a penalty try. The conversion was the last act of the half and Burton had been pegged back to 29 – 17.
James Davies replaced Burrough a Hooker. Stoke kicked straight out but turned over at the base of the scrum. Burton conceded a penalty forty metres out which was put wide of the posts.
Liam Sturgess replaced Dutton with Neale switching the second row. Burton made ground rapidly as Nicholls took a quick penalty then made a superb off-load to Banton. Stoke transgressed at the breakdown but Archer was wide with the long kick.
Josh Cartwright and Neale both each made a couple of storming carries before Dave Archer broke clear for a try which he converted to make the score 36-17. It seemed Burton were perhaps in the clear but twenty five minutes of drama was then to unfold.
Browne was replaced by Cam Handy and Burton attacked through a good run from Smith. Stoke then broke-out swiftly and created a golden opportunity but Nesbitt worked hard and made a try saving tackle. Burton were turned over and defended well before Brooks made a great run only for the pass to knocked on. The wind having dropped since half time now picked up, accompanied by rain.
Stoke found touch in the Burton twenty two and made a great driving maul pay with a try.
Dave Henry replaced Cartwright and made a good carry supported by Handy but then Stoke got the ball and kicked from twenty two to twenty two. Stoke applied pressure and earned a penalty from which they chose a scrum and pushed over for a converted try.
Now only five points behind Stoke sensed they could go on to win and kicked deep whenever they could. Burton knocked on thirty five metres out. Stoke took the scrum and from the breakdown Dutton was yellow carded for not releasing. Stoke scrummed again and again pushing Burton back towards their line before a penalty try was awarded to level the scores. The simple conversion took Stoke into a 38-36 lead with little time left. The absence of a score-board left players and spectators in some doubt but the fact was that Stoke led for the first time in the match.
Burton attacked desperately then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty as the Stoke backs looked dubious for off-side. Stoke then kicked long and chased well. Nesbitt launched a counter-attack and Burton advanced into their opponents half. A penalty was taken quickly by Nicholls and thirty to thirty five metres out another one was awarded. The kick was by no means easy given the wind, the rain and a slight angle however Dave Archer was the calmest Burtonian present and bisected the uprights to clinch victory. Stoke had made it a great final but after a tough season Burton were able to enjoy only their fourth cup win the history of the competition.