Beefed up second half gives victory
Burton overturned weak first half with improved second half display to get victory.
Two serious injuries that saw players from both sides have to leave the field saw Burton, after being on the pitch for more than one and three-quarter hours, eventually win this Midlands I (West) match on Peel Croft quite comfortably against visitors and relegation threatened Kenilworth having recovering from a sloppy, first half display that saw them ending the half losing 17-19. But this score flattered Burton as only minutes before the whistle had signalled the end of the half they had been trailing 10-19 but a very late rally had put them back in touch.
Apart from the apparent ‘easy game’ approach that Burton started the game with, home supporters were left wondering on the vagaries of exchange referee allocation with an official from Warwickshire being in charge of a game between Burton and a Warwickshire side. However, even with these decisions Burton’s midfield defence was so weak that a dying fly could have broken through it as tackles were missed or just not made to give Kenilworth’s backs far too much space as they added to Burton’s woes.
Dave Archer kicked-off for Burton and the visitors soon found it difficult to gain ground as Burton’s pack stifled their opposition and dominated set pieces. But after five minutes Kenilworth moved the ball out wide and assisted by Burton’s non-existent tackling in midfield their centre raced through a yawning, gap to score an early try and give his side a 5-0 lead.
But five minutes Archer reduced the deficit with an accurate penalty goal from forty-five metres out. Unfortunately within a minute a massive forward pass was ignored as the same opposition player raced through to feed his winger to touch down for his side’s second try, but this time the kicker added the extra points and Burton now trailed 3-12 with just over twelve minutes gone.
Burton now started to pile on the pressure and an Archer attempt at goal hit the posts but the Burton pack were quickly up to recycle the ball and it was spun out along the line to debutant Felix Phillips, who when stopped passed back inside to Lewis Brooks. He made ground and set the ball going back across the pitch, but with a two man overlap which a Burton player ignored and hung onto the ball saw a chance frittered away as Kenilworth scrambled the ball clear.
Then the first of the injuries saw the game held-up for ten minutes as the Kenilworth flanker was treated prior to leaving the field with an injured shoulder. It was Burton who responded best to the break as the sparkle to their play was re-ignited when after a solid Burton scrum Archer took a pass to dart through midfield and race over for a try that he then converted himself.
Now trailing 10-12 Burton’s pack continued to dominate but chances were lost as players hung onto the ball with free men outside them or the forwards tried to barge their way through a very solid opposition defence. The Burton pack had their opposite numbers in all sorts of trouble with the front row of Kev Birt, Nathan Taylor and Matt Tivey dominating set pieces and putting in some surging runs, while Josh Cartwright and Ken Archer took the lineouts at will to provide a continuous supply of quality ball. But unfortunately Burton failed to make good use of this abundant possession it was left to Kenilworth to score the points from their meagre helping of ball, and yet again gaps in Burton’s normally solid defence were soon exploited as the opposition backs also exposed Burton inability to put in tackles and stop players. A scrappy lineout was won by the opposition and they spun the ball out wide where their centre again carved open a hole to race through and touch down. Their kicker added the extra two points and with ten minutes to go his side led 19-10.
At last Burton started to play and with the Burton backs now starting to play with much more purpose the back row of Chris Atchison, ‘Spud’ Taylor and Ed Henry were able to control the breakdown area and produce quickly re-cycled ball and this was driven on with powerful bursts by Birt, Archer and Tivey to surge towards the opposition line. A great run by Tivey took play to within five metres of the line and with the whole pack in support ‘Spud’ Taylor was driven over for a try that Archer converted. Burton continued to put some width on the ball as Archer, Brooks and then Phillips were stopped inches short of the line. Unfortunately Phillips was injured and was replaced by Darryl Banton on the wing. This took the score to 17-19 in Kenilworth’s favour as the first half ended.
Kenilworth restarted the game and Cartwright caught the ball to charge forward supported by the Taylor brothers, Henry and Atchison who took play into the visitor’s twenty-two. But this move came at a cost with Atchison flat-out on the pitch unable to move after making ground only to be tackled and dropped on by three opposition players. After a fifteen minute delay he was stretchered off to the local hospital where he received treatment for three broken ribs. Dave Fitchett came off the bench to join the fray in Atchison’s absence and was soon involved as he burst clear from the halfway line to make thirty metres before being hauled down, but his efforts had set-up a Burton move that ended in Sam Smith being tackled into touch. Burton continued to pile on the pressure and after twenty minutes play Kenilworth were reduced to fourteen men when their hooker was yellow-cared for repeat offending as his side tried to slow Burton’s pressure. Archer kicked the resulting penalty to put Burton in the lead at 20-19.
From restart Burton spun the ball out wide and Brooks raced round his man to race down the wing before feeding the ball back inside to Archer to show a clean pair of heels to the opposition cover and touch down for his second try of the day. Unfortunately his efforts in scoring the try saw his conversion attempt land closer to the corner flag than the posts and so Burton only led by 25-19.
Ken Archer gathered the restart and careered forward with Fitchett, Tivey and Taylor in support when the move was stopped the ball was quickly, recycled and Peach fed Archer who kicked ahead. Brooks and Banton tackled the receiver but the opposition winger somehow managed to scramble the ball into touch on the twenty-two. Another scrappy lineout saw Henry drop on the loose ball and the Burton pack got the ball to Peach who fed his brother, and the latter delayed his pass to Archer as the centre streaked up to race through the covering defence and score his third try of the day. His successful conversion took the score to 32-19 to make the score line look even better.
But Kenilworth weren’t prepared to lie down and a great take by Cartwright supported by the Taylor brothers too play to halfway only for Burton to be penalised. A quick tap saw the visitors spin the ball out wide and the fly half doubled round to retake the ball and again exploit Burton’s weak defence as he darted through to race thirty metres to score the final try of the match and take the final score to 32-24 for a Burton victory.