Burton triumph in the mud
With very, heavy underfoot conditions making life difficult for both sides it was Burton who proved to be the surest footed
A much changed Burton team took to the field against opponents Hereford at Peel Croft on a bitterly cold and damp Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t long before spectators saw why victories against Hereford are hard earned and this 18-10 triumph was no exception.
An unusually heavy Peel Croft soon showed how it would influence the game, as the kick off from Burton failed to go 10 metres and then Hereford knocked on at the base of the scrum. As Burton then looked to run the ball they too knocked on. Hereford kicked their way into the home twenty two, but Sam Smith cleared and was involved in attack. A break through midfield from the centre saw Burton setting up a ruck in a promising position however a transgression in the ruck from the visitors gave Burton a penalty and Darryl Banton stepped up to fire the ball over the bar and gave Burton a slim lead.
The ever, lively Kelvin Browne caught the kick off and ran back to half way and Burton were soon in a good field position after a Luke Peach kick took play deep into opposition territory. A catch and drive from a lineout had Burton moving forward at a rate of knots, but unfortunately a penalty was conceded for truck and trailer and Hereford kicked clear.
Burton gained possession again and tried a direct approach through barn-storming runs from Jono Edwards and Jason Knight, before Hereford counter attacked. This move was halted when Banton kicked clear and a fine chase from Sam Benjamin pinned Hereford back in their twenty two. A flowing move from Burton ended with a penalty for offside. However Banton pulled his attempted kick at goal wide, but Burton maintained the pressure and a kick from Banton on the right wing was weighted perfectly for Danny Smith to pounce on as it crossed the line and score a try. Banton narrowly missed with the conversion attempt but Burton now led 8-0.
A procession of handling errors from both sides gave rise to a series of scrums, where Burton established total domination, including a 10 metre drive on one occasion. Luke Peach used a series of short pop passes to bring runners into to play as Burton tested the Hereford defence with a sustained spell of attack. But Hereford came through and launched a counter-attack which gave their outside centre the space to crash over for a well worked try, which was converted to make the score 8-7 in favour of the Crofters.
From the restart Burton attacked again and Browne looked as if he could be through only to be hauled down five metres short. A knock on at the ruck was soon followed by the half time whistle.
T the start of the second-half Nathan Taylor took an early strike against the head but the packs were soon locking horns again after a knock on in midfield. Hereford kicked deep and then some poor tackling from Burton gave the visitors some forward momentum before Burton turned over the ball and played their way out of trouble.
With some fifteen minutes of the half gone Burton coaches rang the changes with Steve Cross replacing Knight and Simon Bradley coming on for Charl Neethling. Banton kicked in to the Hereford twenty two and as the opposition full back ran back he was felled by a crunching tackle from Luke Peach. Up in support the Burton pack counter-rucked before Peach and Jon Philliskirk then combined to apply pressure but a penalty was conceded at the ruck. Tom Murphy caught the attempted touch finder and charged forward before finding Benjamin in support, but the move ended with a knock on. From the scrum Hereford kicked long forcing Benjamin and Danny Smith to run back over half way to collect the ball for Edwards and then Josh Cartwright to make carries before Banton spun the ball to Browne near the left wing. Browne flew forward and when tackled somehow managed to off-load to Taylor who scampered over to score five metres in from touch. Banton’s conversion was majestic and gave Burton a 15-7 lead going into the final quarter.
Burton ran the restart kick back but Hereford intercepted a pass but couldn’t break the scrambling Burton defence. After some end to end play, Hereford pressed again and Cross was yellow carded for knocking the ball from the hands of the scrum-half. Hereford took three points from the kick putting them five points behind at 15-10.
More Burton changes saw Ben Peach take up the scrum half position as Tom Cooper left the field and Burton re-jigged their back line. James Burroughs left the flank and Knight returned to play. Hereford pressed forward but a Burton turnover on the twenty allowed Ben Peach and Edwards to steam forward. Burton went through some phases and took play to the twenty two when an off-side gave Burton a penalty. Despite slipping on the treacherous surface and ending up on his back, Banton got enough contact to see his kick glide over the bar.
But Hereford refused to lie down trying to get back into the game only to be thwarted by the seven man Burton pack as it drove the next scrum back before a darting run from Danny Smith made thirty metres for the last play of note in the game. Burton were worthy of this 18-10 victory which they ground out against their typically, tough opponents.