Winning end to League Season
Burton always in control to end season on a high
The journey to play Worcester Wanderers at Sixways by the Burton 1st XV was fully rewarded as the squad stepped up to the mark and reversed the result the two sides had produced in their contest back in last September in the first league match of the season. So Burton left the venue as worthy victors, 15- 21, and so finish off this season’s league campaign in mid-table after a somewhat auspicious start indicated more relegation rather than celebration. While the victory was not particularly explosive it did consist of a great display of control and domination by the Burton pack and the win was just what Burton wanted to keep their confidence on a high for their last game of the season at Lichfield in the County Cup Final against Tamworth on the 13th May.
With torrential rain falling during the warm-up and first few minutes of the game, it was Burton; with the wind and slope advantages it was the visitors who had the better of possession and territory early on. However a missed penalty was the nearest they could get to scoring until the tenth minute when a driving maul after a line-out take by Ken Archer took Burton up to the opposition twenty-two, Jon Edwards peeled infield to set up a ruck. Ben Peach spun the ball out and Dave Archer coming infield of his left wing broke the line to be stopped by the opposition fullback. The ball went out quickly to Luke Upton and the young outside centre jinked over the line to score. Dave Archer added the extra points to put Burton 7-0 in the lead.
The pitch drained remarkably quickly and well, however there were repeated handling errors on both sides, leading to many scrummages where the Worcester eight were given a torrid time. Approaching the twenty minute mark, Worcester were awarded a kickable penalty but chose to kick for the corner and then a well executed catch and drive earned them five points. The conversion attempt explained the decision why they did not to go for goal with the original penalty.
Worcester tried to clear their lines from the restart and Craig Dutton battled hard and did well to gather the ball. Matt Tivey and Josh Cartwright made strong carries in midfield before Lewis Brooks burst forward only for his pass to be knocked on five metres out. A couple of other promising attacks ended in the same manner as Burton were unable to capitalise on a spell of good pressure.
The Worcester blindside flanker put in a good performance and from his line break and further missed tackles allowed their right winger to score in the corner. Again the conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Dave Fitchett replaced Ed Henry who suffered with a recurring shoulder problem.
Encouraged by taking a 10-7 lead Worcester upped the tempo and it took some outstanding work between Danny Campbell and Alex Reeve to deal with a good kick and chase from Worcester and run play back out of the Burton 22. Dave Archer then put in an excellent kick deep into the 22, chased after it to tackle the fullback as he tried to gather the ball, but Worcester managed to scramble it clear and hold out until the half time whistle.
The wind had by now picked up and Burton appeared to have it all to do in the second half as Dutton, Ken Archer and Kev Birt made hard yards but remained in their own half of the field. Burton were pushed further back as Worcester kicked another penalty to the corner seven minutes into the half, however Burton nullified the drive and Ben Peach cleared his lines shortly afterwards.
A slick Burton line-out gave Dutton and Edwards the chance to drive forward into the Worcester half. Luke Peach took play to the Blind side and Kev Birt charged forward before deftly chipping ahead as he approached the left touch-line. Hooker Nathan Taylor chased down the kick and passed on to Alex Reeve who crossed in the corner for his first try in a first team shirt. Dave Archer made the conversion look easy despite extremely difficult wind conditions.
Worcester enjoyed the better of play for a spell and Burton were put on the back foot for a while, but some good defence including an outstanding hit from Fitchett held of Worcester until a break down the left wing ended in another try for the opposition. Again the conversion failed, however Worcester had edged 15-14 in front, with twenty minutes left to play. Jason Knight made his debut replacing Edwards and Tom Murphy replaced Tivey.
With the wind having dropped Burton threw everything forward. Upton was held up over the line, a good overlap was squandered and Worcester, for the only time in the game, got the better in a scrum as they successfully wheeled. A penalty allowed Worcester to clear, however, their move from the lineout went awry allowing Upton to seize the loose ball, Cartwright linked with Birt who crashed forward to set up a driving maul. Burton advanced to the five metre line before Nathan Taylor spun to the left and finished off an excellent move as he dived over the line to score. Archer made it three from three conversions giving Burton a six-point cushion.
With 10 minutes to play Burton showed more intelligence than they had in the opening league game between these two sides where Worcester overtook them in the same period of the game to go on and record a win. This time Ben Peach entrusted his forwards to take the ball on and run-down the clock. Worcester looked to take the ball wide but the defence of the Burton back-line held firm and Burton showed great character in this end to end affair to run out worthy 21-15 winners.