Last Win of the Season
By Claire Bradley
Burton welcomed Sandbach to Peel Croft on Saturday for their final match of the season in the Midlands Premier league.
The Cheshire side narrowly won the encounter on their own ground at the start of the season, but Burton had been playing well lately having beaten higher placed opposition for the last two weeks, so expectations were high. The two sides looked evenly matched for the first 10 minutes with neither gaining an advantage. Then disaster struck for Burton when Athenkosi Kethani was sent off for a neck roll. Referees have no choice but to show a red card in these circumstances.
If the visitors now thought it would be easy against 14 men they were much mistaken. The situation brought out the best in the team. They worked extremely hard and covered for each other. It was not long before they were awarded a penalty which resulted in a lineout in the Sandbach 22. They won the lineout and the ball was passed to fullback Harry Titley, arriving late into the three-quarter line. He made a break and found flanker Jack Neal in support to open the scoring. Will Simpson converted.
Sandbach were soon back in the game and when they got the put in to a scrum on the Burton 5 metre line, with Burton being a man short in the pack it was perhaps inevitable that the visitors would score a push over try. The kicker added the extra two points to level the scores.
Despite this setback Burton were still playing well and were attacking when ever they could. Centre Josh Kent crashed through a tackle on the half way line and the fed winger Nick Oxley who ran in to score. With a difficult kick from wide out Simpson again added the extra points. There was no further significant action in the half, so the half time score was 14 -7.
Burton were on the attack again soon after the restart. The forwards won the ball from a lineout and drove forward. The ball was recycled quickly and passed to Titley, who now playing at fly half because of an injury to Jamie Dutton, made an inch perfect cross kick for Oxley to gather and score his second try. This time Simpson missed the conversion attempt.
Burton were then able to play with parity of numbers for 10 minutes as a Sandbach player was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle. During this period they were awarded a penalty which Simpson kicked from the 10-metre line to further increase the Burton lead.
However, the pressure of playing with a man short now began to tell. When the visitors were back at full strength, they won a lineout in the Burton 22 and the centre showed quick feet to break through the Burton defence and score under the posts. The kicker added the extra points.
The home team were in no mood to capitulate, however and they were soon putting pressure on the visitors again. When a Sandbach forward was penalised for holding on to the ball in the tackle Simpson slotted the ball between the posts ensuring that the visitors had to score twice to win.
They managed one score towards the end of the match, when from a lineout in the Burton 22 they drove over the line. The kicker again added the extra points.
For the last few minutes of the game Burton had to dig in but despite the visitors being awarded a couple penalties they were unable to breach the Burton defence. The last of these penalties resulted in a lineout on the Burton 5 metre line. Burton took the ball against the throw in and were able to kick to touch to end the match. This was a great win for Burton against the odds, having played for what amounted to 60 minutes with a man short. The final score was Burton 25 Sandbach 21.