Match 21. The final fixture of the season (not including tour) was played out at local side Burton. Several cancellations had left us rusty but confident we could put in a performance on Peel Croft even with the ground being extremely dry.
We were able to field a strong side against a Burton team of mixed ability and were quickly into our stride in the first of three, 20-minute, periods. Danny “Bomber” Harris was first to strike as he picked from the base of a scrum to race over and start the scoring for Derby. The visitors were finding some rhythm and it wasn’t long before team captain, Rhys Williams, added a second, taking a quick tap to catch the home defence napping. The first third continued in much the same way, Josh Leonard finishing a great backs move, Cameron Finlay notching his first from a solo effort, Bomber profiting from a turnover by Rhys and George Cochrane supporting Luke Fuller’s great run to put the score 30-0 at the break. During that first period, Burton were left in the difficult position of having no subs and an injury so Ethan Morris stepped up and volunteered his services, displaying exactly the attitude we want from our players.
With a heavy tour on the horizon, the decision was made to try some different combinations in the second third but that didn’t seem to affect the players on the pitch as they started in the same vein that they had left off. Cam added his second after some solid work from Rhys before Jack McAteer finished a flowing backs move. Cam then completed his hat-trick after tidying up some loose play from both sides before adding a fourth on the back of a great maul from James Daly. Will Reid was next to cross the whitewash, chasing down Luke’s wonderful box kick with Cam getting his fifth shortly after when he capitalised on an error in the Burton back line. James Daly finished the scoring in the second period with a marauding run which made up for his earlier attempt when he stormed down half of the pitch only to knock on with the try line in sight. Once again, a special mention goes to Josh Leonard and Tommy Horseman who both had stints in a Burton shirt during the second period.
The third and final period led to even more experimentation by the Derby coaches with almost everyone in the backs playing out of position and many of the forwards trying new roles as well. This didn’t seem to faze them though as Will Reid notched his brace from a long bounce pass by Bomber and it didn’t get any easier for Burton, Rhys taking the kick off and breaking free to score again. The forwards were in on the act again as Rhys intercepted to race over before selflessly passing to Ollie Sacco who scored his first for a while. Jack Mac was back in the action minutes later as he punished Burton’s mistake when clearing their lines before Bomber added another straight from the kick off. Burton finally got on the score sheet when they dotted down in the corner after some concerted pressure but it was the visitors who were to have the final say, a show-and-go from Rhys put him clear before he offloaded to Jack Mac for his hat-trick.
Overall there were many positives to take from a comfortable win by Derby but probably the biggest was the willingness of the players to help out a fellow team. In fact it was Tommy Horseman’s contribution in the Burton shirt that edged him the man of the match award ahead of a superb contribution from Ollie Lamb. Muppet of the morning goes to Bomber for forgetting his shirt and tie which he then tried to hide by asking his dad to leave sharply at the end!
Next week sees us use the final weekend of the season for a tour of Chester and North Wales. There may or may not be match reports after all, what goes on tour stays on tour!
Match Report by Marc Williams