THE picturesque Somerset village of Wiveliscombe was the venue for the Colts National Plate Semi Final. The four hour journey did not deter 40-plus Burton supporters who set themselves up in the stand and sang their hearts out. The Burton side went on to produce another magnificent performance.
The home side elected to battle up the considerable slope. The Burton pack drove forward and the home side were feeling the squeeze and gave away penalties near the 10m line. Ben Marshall had a difficult wind to cope with but put Burton three points ahead.
More fluency came into Burton’s game as half backs Phil Harris and Jack Bartram began to pull the strings. Harris set off a blindside move which gave Right Wing Danny Smith the ball on the 22 before he went outside his opponent and cut inside two covering defenders to score.
The Burton front row of Dave Jessel, Rob Beddard and Nathan Taylor were getting their hands on the ball and powering forward and beginning to wear them down. A number of phases from Burton in the 22, resulted in No. 8 Henry Clarke bull-dozing three defenders over from the five metre line. Marshall added the conversion.
With five minutes to go before the break Burton pushed forward again having won good lineout ball through George Wright and Joe Gazzard. Desperate defence held Burton out until a five metre scrum provided Clarke with chance to pick up and barge through to score. Marshall hoisted the credit to 22-0 in advance of the anticipated second half onslaught.
Burton had shown great determination by coming from behind in three of the four previous rounds and they showed this fantastic will again in keeping Wiveliscombe out for 20 minutes. Flankers Ben Cook and Dominic Taylor put in huge tackles time after time and the Lewis Brooks Harry Titley midfield combination cut runners in their tracks.
The energy sapping slope began to tell but Nyle Davidson and Adam Smith added fresh legs to the pack and got stuck into the task immediately. Further substitutions were enforced as Dave Jessel took a bang to the back of the head and Danny Smith left the field temporarily with a broken nose, having put in a crunching tackle.
Wiveliscombe sensed their opportunity as powerful Prop Matt Ellis made several carries before scoring a try, which Grant Davey converted. Burton made a mess of the kick-off and a Wiveliscombe break released danger-man No. 12 Toby West who surged down the left wing to score.
Charley Cash came on at scrum half and gave fantastic service to Bartram. A break on the left wing gave Brooks sufficient space to put a superb grubber kick into touch in the 22.
Burton then managed to keep the field position and push forward through their pack in a series of pick and go moves. Dominic Taylor was stopped inches short of the line but from the next phase Rob Beddard burrowed through the cover for the crucial score.
Jake Manning and Lewis Johnson entered the fray and helped shore up the effort after a knock-on gave Wiveliscombe a scrum on the Burton 22. One of Dominic Taylor’s many turn-overs wrested the ball back for Burton and their willingness to play rugby showed as Brooks was released on the right wing. Hemmed in by the cover he kicked in field for winger Sam Smith to chase. The Under 17 won the footrace, calmly hacked on, picked up and touched down. This made it 32-12 to Burton, the whistle blew shortly afterwards both sides having served a magnificent cup tie.
Burton go on to face Bedford Blues in the final at Franklin Gardens, Northampton Saints home ground on Monday 4 May (kick-off 1.30pm). Burton will be running supporters coaches to the final. Anyone interested is requested to contact Alan Taylor 07802 179806.