In excess of 400 Burton supporters spent their Bank Holiday Monday cheering on the Burton Colts in the National Plate Final at Franklins Gardens, Northampton.
Bedford Blues Academy produced a mighty display to convincingly beat Burton Colts in the National Plate Final. However, this was not without a mighty scare in the first half, when the Burton side delighted their supporters with a magnificent performance.
As underdogs, Burton had nothing to lose and got off to a good start as the inspirational Dominic Taylor set the tone, applying pressure to the favourites’ half-backs. For most of the first half Burton would enjoy the lion’s share of possession and territory. However, seven minutes into the game from an apparently innocuous situation on half-way, Bedford suddenly conjured up a three-on-one on the left wing and finished ruthlessly.
Burton were in the game with their forwards going well, Dave Jessel and Rob Beddard making turn-overs in midfield allowing Burton to maintain territory. Jack Batram made a searing break to open up the defence crossing the 22 in one of the first attacks to take Burton close to a score. Powerful charges from Henry Clarke and Nathan Taylor demonstrated that Burton were going to be direct and take on the opposing eight.
The Bedford backs were using the full width of the pitch and stretching Burton. However, having put doubt in the minds of the defence, the fly half ran a piercing line to score under the posts and give his kicker an easy conversion.
Twelve points down after 20 minutes, Burton then took the game to Bedford. Danny Smith was bundled into touch inches from the line and into the touch judge, who it later transpired broke his fibula and ankle. On 27 minutes with a catch and drive from a lineout, Burton surged forward and Spuddy Taylor touched down.
George Wright as ever epitomised the Burton spirit, using his considerable skill to match much bigger opponents, all whilst having to leave the field several times for treatment on a nasty mouth injury. Joel Briggs and Adam Smith both took spells partnering Joe Gazzard to replace Wright in the second row and kept up the momentum for Burton. Sam Benjamin and Lewis Brooks both came close as Phil Harris released his backs from the stream of possession his pack served up.
Maybe the endeavours of the first half took too much out of Burton; in the second half their opponents shifted quickly through the gears with four tries in 15 minutes.
Despite the onslaught Burton kept going with their captain Ben Cook and future captain Harry Titley tackling repeatedly. Bedford’s intensity would not allow Burton to settle. However, with a penalty count exceeding their scoring, they could be considered fortunate not to have seen the referee’s yellow card. Burton meanwhile were suffering a few knocks and Steve Robinson, Matt Boden, Adam Brookes, Charley Cash and Nyle Davidson entered the fray.
Ben Marshall enjoyed a fine game counter-attacking from full back, several times sparking Burton and as a second score beckoned, Bedford intercepted and raced away to score. In the dying seconds a converted try made the score 52-5 to worthy winners Bedford.
Ian Cartwright, Burton Colts Coach, said: “Playing the pick of clubs across Bedfordshire was always going to be a tall order for a home-grown Burton side. However, they did their club proud with their skill and spirit. The Crofters achievements as county champions, National Plate finalists and club team of the season speak volumes and they have been a terrific group of players.”