Brave Burton performance in Staffordshire Cup Final
Score-line doesn't do justice Burton
The odds were against Burton going into this Staffordshire Cup Final against National 3 Midlands Lichfield. These odds increased further when Lichfield scored two early tries but the response form Burton to take the game to their opponents which made for an entertaining final.
Burton kicked off with the wind at their backs and a slope in their favour. Joe Gazzard retrieved the Lichfield clearance kick and Burton advanced before losing the ball at the second breakdown. Lichfield took ply into the Burton half before knocking on. The Burton scrum looked the more powerful and Gazzard carried well from the base. Burton then used Josh Cartwright and Loz Betty to make ground back to half way. The ball was lost and then Burton were penalised for offside. Lichfield kicked to touch and drove the maul from the lineout before using their backs. Betty and Nick Oxley defended well on the line but two phases later a try was scored which went unconverted.
It looked like being the proverbial long afternoon when Burton slipped off a few tackles and there was a try in the left hand corner. The missed kick helped but Burton trailed by ten points.
Burton chased their re-start well and pinned Lichfield back. Before turning over on the twenty two. Gazzard stormed over to open Burton’s account. Harry Titley converted.
Titley put up a huge kick which Nick Oxley chased superbly to snag the receiver however Burton were penalised. Lichfield kicked to touch but Cartwright stole the ball. Betty made one of his trademark runs but again Burton offended at the breakdown.
Lichfield broke quickly up to the Burton twenty two only to be penalised. Burton made ground before Betty chipped forward and the ball made contact with a Lichfield hand on the way into touch. James Davies found his man in the lineout and was then in the van to score as his pack drove over. Titley narrowly missed the kick, but regardless Burton led 12-10.
After Burton dealt with the re-start Titley launched another bomb which was knocked on. In the next phase Jack Neal sustained a nasty facial injury and was replaced by Jerry Oldfield. Burton had knocked on and from a scrum Lichfield scored a try all too easily and converted it to make the score 17-12 in their favour.
There was a scrappy period where neither side put anything significant together. Burton then got some traction with carried from Props Matt Tivey and Tom Murphy and a half break from Centre Jack Brooks. Burton were awarded a penalty which they kicked to the corner. The drive from the lineout was absorbed but Burton were composed playing through phases before Brooks darted through a hole and scored. Titley converted and Burton led 19-17.
Burton made a hash of the kick-off and put themselves under pressure. Lichfield forced a penalty and opted for a scrummage. Burton defended well before superb work from Joe Briggs at a breakdown was rewarded with a penalty which was the last notable action of a compelling first half.
There were errors from both sides early in the second half before Lichfield scored a well worked try from possession at a lineout. The conversion was unsuccessful
Brooks returning from injury on the day hobbled off to be replaced by youngster Levi Davis and the back line was re-shuffled.
Lichfield kicked a long-range penalty to make the score 25-19 in their favour.
The game had been played at quite a pace and there was a frenetic period of play without interruption where both sides had possession. There good runs from the Burton under eighteen players Davis and Chaz Bunting.
Burton had a lineout on half way and drove forward twenty metres before a penalty was awarded. Burton drove again and a Lichfield player was yellow-carded. This was to become the critical period of the game. Burton kicked for the corner and the drive was held. The Burton forwards patiently attacked with a series of pick and goes with play crabbing in-field. A further penalty was awarded and Burton kicked for touch. The lineout was lost and Lichfield were relieved to be able to clear their lines. Lee English fielded the ball well and ran the ball back to half way. Burton spun the ball wide only for Greg Massey to intercept and go over for Lichfield’s and his own fifth try. The conversion made the score 32-19 and Burton had gone from applying real pressure and potentially taking the lead to having a mountain to climb.
Billy Peach and Adam Smith replaced Eddie Nicholls and Matt Tovey respectively.
Lichfield took a kick at goal from a penalty which would have put them two scores clear. The kick went wide but from the territorial advantage they had a further well worked try resulted and the conversion extended the lead.
Burton continued to battle away until the final whistle. Lichfield were worthy winners but the score-line was harsh on Burton who had fought back twice to take the lead and applied real pressure when the game was still in the balance. The mood in the camp was rightly positive as after a run of poor results the players had stepped up to the toughest challenge of the season and given an excellent account of themselves.