After much anticipation in both camps a big crowd had assembled to watch the Midlands level 6 Play Off at Peel Croft on a fine but windy day. With barely 2 minutes on the clock Burton were offside at a breakdown and George Castledine slotted the penalty for a 3 – 0 lead to Derby. Only a few minutes later Derby gave away a similar offence and Burton scrum half Daryl Banton notched the penalty, 3 – 3.
Play was evenly contested mostly around the middle of the pitch, then at 12 minutes Tom Taylor-Dawes made a trade mark break down the blind side of a scrum near the centre line, dummied a pass and bounced a defender to sprint in for a try under the posts, duly converted by Castledine, 10 – 3 to Derby.
Once again the lead was short lived as Burton won a line out, second row Will Roach burst through some ineffectual tackling to score, Banton adding the extras, 10 – 10.
Derby had two promising attacks, firstly Taylor-Dawes breaking and feeding Luke Frixou and then Ben Marlow and Lewis Hancock, but Burton’s defence was good. A little later Oli Fewtrell made a great break from has own half, fed Phil Robinson who then linked with Frixou but again Burton’s defence was able to snuff out the attack. Burton then pressed and desperate Derby defence pushed the Burton attack into touch just before the corner. On the stroke of half time Derby turned over a Burton ruck and Burton then infringed giving Castledine a chance to give Derby a half time lead, but his attempt was just wide.
The teams gathered at half time to prepare for the second half. The wind, which had been behind Derby in the first half, seemed to have become a little stronger.
Burton started strongly and after 4 minutes Banton missed a penalty chance. A couple of minutes later some very unpleasant foul play by the Burton 6 on replacement Charlie Esberger, right in front of the active touch judge was deemed worthy of only a yellow card. Burton conceded a penalty, then 10 metres for back-chat and Castledine put the penalty over for a 13 – 10 lead to Derby.
Unfortunately after this Burton started to use the wind well and Derby struggled to get out of their half. Inevitably the pressure told and eventually the strong running Burton centre Lawrence Betty powered through to score, Banton adding the conversion, 17 – 13 to Burton. Derby started to miss a few tackles, then Taylor-Dawes was sin binned. Derby were penalised at a scrum, Burton tapped the penalty drove, re-cycled and Parkinson went over from close range, again converted by Banton, 24 – 13 to Burton.
Derby scored a consolation try through Taylor-Dawes with another powerful break, Castledine again adding the extras, 24 – 20.
At the end of the day Burton just about deserved their win. All at Derby are aware that this very young side is probably not ready for level 5 rugby yet. Congratulations to them for coming so close to it, but another year at level 6 with Syston and Bedford Athletic back in the league will make it a very competitive league and the players will learn a lot from it. Good luck to Burton in National 3M. They know just as we do that it is going to be a tough season.
Photographs from the game can be viewed in the Burton v Derby photograph gallery.
Match Report by Colin Cornfield