Stratford 15 Burton 45
Midlands One West
THIRD placed Burton proved too strong for Stratford in their penultimate home game of the season on Saturday.
Although at the start of the match Stratford were fourth, the gap between the sides was 20 points, so it was always going to be a tough test for the hosts.
There was bright sunshine and a beautifully green pitch ready for open free-flowing rugby, although there was also a stiff breeze that was blowing in Stratford’s favour in the first half.
Within two minutes of kick-off, Burton opened the scoring. The visitors turned over a Stratford scrum in the centre of the park and quickly shifted the ball out to the left wing where the Burton full back evaded Stratford’s last defender for a try close to the posts and a 7-0 lead.
Play continued at a break-neck speed with Burton having most of the possession. Stratford defended well but kicking turnover ball down the pitch just meant Burton attacked again from deep each time.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Burton broke down the right wing and drew the defence over and a clever chip into the middle of the empty twenty-two was collected by Burton for a well executed try between the posts.
Five minutes later a series of good interchanges created an overlap for Burton on the left and the third try gave them a commanding 21-0 lead after a quarter of the match.
Stratford’s restart went straight into touch but they managed to win a free kick at the subsequent scrum. A quick break pushed Burton back and forced a penalty which fly half Nathan Geekie slotted over to get Stratford on the scoreboard.
Shortly afterwards Dan Kirby was sent to the sin-bin and, at the subsequent scrum close to the try line, Burton splintered the Stratford pack and in the ensuing melee darted over the line for the bonus point try which went unconverted.
Still with the extra man advantage, Burton scored again close to half time, this time following a free kick at a lineout and the half finished 33-3 in the visitors’ favour.
Stratford started the second half brightly, recovering the ball from the kick-off.
Centre Jack Young made a break for the line and slipped over, but luckily for him the Burton defence then went off their feet to concede a penalty. Taken quickly, Young had a second attempt and this time broke through for Stratford’s first try.
It was 20 minutes until the next score when a Stratford attack broke down and Burton punted the ball down the pitch. The bounce favoured Burton and gave them another try to make it 38-8.
Within ten minutes Burton scored another against the run of play. A promising Stratford move was turned over and once again Burton pushed Stratford back down the pitch. This time Burton knocked-on but, with turnover ball from the scrum, the visitors scored again between the posts.
With full time fast approaching Stratford did manage a consolation try. Following a penalty Stratford put the ball into the corner for a lineout and the pack then mauled over the line with Geoff Dyson coming up with the ball. Jonny Duncan converted.
The loss saw Stratford slip to fifth in the table but all the signs are that at least a very creditable top six place is on the cards.
On Saturday Stratford travel to Crewe & Nantwich, who are fighting relegation.