All round excellence from Burton
Burton dominated Stoke in attack and defended superbly to gain five points from a 36-0 victory.
After an opening exchange of kicks Stoke were forced into making touch on their own twenty two. Will Broooks caught the lineout and was driven forward by his pack. Loz Betty then crashed forward in the centre and the ball was taken through two phases towards the right of the field. As play was switched back Fly Half Ian Gilmour jinked through the cover for a try which Daryl Banton converted. Keeping the tempo from this first play, Tom Murphy and James Burrough made yards in midfield before the ball was shifted out to the left wing where Dave Archer skilfully beat three defenders to score. Despite ending up on his back Banton added the two points.
Demonstrating the power available to Burton Liam Hucknall & Tom Harris took play forty meters from the kick off. The ball was eventually lost, however soon recovered and fed to Harry Titley. The Full Back linked beautifully with Archer who took a second pass and touched down in the corner. The conversion was not made, however Burton now led 19-0 with only seven minutes on the clock.
Fourth placed Stoke then got some possession for the first time and kicked into the Burton twenty two. Josh Cartwright caught the line out and a ten metre drive was eventually collapsed by Stoke. The game was being played at a terrific pace and despite the poor conditions the handling was so good that the first knock-on took place in the thirteenth minute. Burton conceded a Free Kick at the first scrum and Stoke then took play through several phases to the Burton twenty two. Even more phases followed but Stoke were twice marched back by the Burton defence and eventually through a spilled pass and fly hack, Stoke came closest to scoring Titley tidied up the loose ball and Glimour found touch.
Both sides mad attacks before Stoke were awarded a penalty which their kicker wasted by finding touch in goal. Jono Parkinson made a storming break over half way and found James Burrough in support. Jack Brooks then took play forward before Gilmour scored his second, on what was his 250th 1st XV appearance. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Matt Tivey and Harris made strong carries for Burton before a counter attack from Stoke was forced into touch at the corner. Burton defended well and saw out the remainder of the half with the clean sheet intact.
Betty received a Yellow Card with the second half six minutes old, however Burton were applying pressure and seemed to be unhindered by the mis-match in numbers. Will Roach replaced Will Brooks and when the next attack resulted in a penalty for Burton, Archer took it quickly and completed his Hat-trick.
Burton made their only glaring error of the day from the kick-off and Stoke maintained the field position before a chip over the Burton defensive line caused slight concern before Titley and Banton combined to find the safety of touch. Archer was injured in the scramble for loose ball and was replaced by Eddie Nicholls who went to Scrum Half, requiring Banton to move to the wing.
Whilst the score board wasn’t ticking as quickly in the first half, Burton were in complete control of proceedings. For the final try Burton moved the ball at real pace, Gilmour and Betty making the initial yardage, before Banton and Harris used quick hands to feed Gilmour with men outside him on the right wing. Titley took the pass , drew the winger and fed Sam Benjamin who tore up the wing to score. Banton perfectly dissected the uprights from a difficult position. attempt.
Burton rung the changes with Craig Dutton coming on and Cartwright leaving the field. The closing stages were a little disjointed, however Burton were comfortable in defence.
The defeat for Stoke took them out of contention for the play-off, leaving their next opponents Hereford as the only competition for Burton. Being a point ahead, with a game in hand and a superior points difference, Burton still have the advantage.
By Ian Cartwright