Plenty of possession but not enough cutting edge
With a much changed side Burton who all equiped themselves well Burton just couldn't get the points
Despite their opponents third place in the league table Burton travelled to Old Halesonians full of confidence after their last two victories, but with far too many ‘eleventh hour’ cry-offs the side looked very different to that selected and the result would very much depend on how quickly these would blend into the side. The changes included debutants Alex Reeve on the wing and Colt Luke Upton in the centre and in addition to these two Adam Brookes made his first start at prop, while stalwarts Jon Edwards and Craig Dutton returned to the back row.
Facing the slope and wind Dave Archer kicked-off for Burton and the visitors pack soon found it would be hard going against the Burton pack, however with the referee awarding two free-kicks for Burton’s supposed early engagement the home side got down field to the Burton twenty-two. But a penalty for the same alleged offence saw the opponents scrum-half take a quick tap and race through to score. The conversion sailed over the bar and Burton now trailed 7-0.
Burton stormed back on the attack, but with all decision going against them Archer was unable to even test his kicking boots. These decisions coupled with the slope and wind advantage meant that Halesonians were able to clear their lines with relative ease whenever Burton threatened their line. Alex Reeve was forced into touch five metres short of the line and a clever chip by Luke Peach saw Archer just beaten to the touch down as Halesonians breathed a huge sigh of relief. The Burton pack were totally dominant and Jon Edwards, Craig Dutton and Ben Peach took full advantage of this with some storming runs. Any attempts to break free of this strangle hold was thwarted by superb defence from Peach, Lawrence and Luke Upton, who looked as though he had been playing 1st team all his short career.
Unfortunately, a great run by Matt Tivey and Kev Birt saw the latter lose possession in the tackle and the home side snapped up the loose ball and started a move that saw them race sixty-metres before their flanker touched-down. The conversion again sailed over the bar and Burton trailed 14-0, but with the wind and slope favouring the opposition Burton were playing well enough to turn the deficit over in the second half.
But with fifteen minutes remaining of the first period Burton were going all out to reduce the lead before the break as Adam Brookes, Nathan Taylor and Ken Archer combined in a surging burst that was only stopped by some last-ditch tackling. Then Betty and Upton worked a slick move that saw the youngster just fail to break through the cover and the score stayed at 14-0 as the half-time whistle sounded.
With the slope and wind now in their favour Burton’s Josh Cartwright gathered the restart and Burton’s rampant pack surged forwards. Although Burton controlled and dominated all the set pieces once the ball was released they just lacked that little bit of extra cutting edge to turn this possession into points. Once again Edwards, Birt and Dutton broke from the base of the scrums to make plenty of ground.
On the hour in an attempt to gain extra momentum Burton replaced Brookes, Edwards and Archer with Jamie Hamilton, Dave Fitchett and Gavin Worth. With these fresh legs Burton continued to dominate and the pack made massive amounts of ground from rolling mauls following lineouts. Unfortunately all too often these bursts resulted in penalty offences against Burton and once again the home side were able to repel the danger with clearance kicks to touch.
With ten minutes to go Burton’s pack at last were able to surge down the touch line with a thirty-metre rolling maul that saw Taylor being carried over the line for a try, but having been out of action for so long Archer’s conversion attempt from the touchline just missed.
Despite Burton’s control this was to be the last score, although Birt, Tivey, Dutton, Fitchett, Upton and Reeve all made frantic efforts to put more points on the board. But the game ended with a home side victory 14-5, but a much changed Burton side had not been disgraced and with a little more cutting edge the result could have been reversed. The whole side had quickly settled in and the changes both older and newer players had distinguished themselves well.