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Rugby: Experimental Burton RFC side move into Staffordshire Cup semi-final

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 26, 2014

POWERFUL RUN ... Burton's Sam Smith bursts clear as Dave Archer looks on against Handsworth.

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BURTON overcame a spirited Handsworth in the first round of the Staffordshire Cup to book their place in the semi-finals.

The Burton coaching team took the opportunity to hand debuts to Will Smith at prop, Jack Neal on the flank, Jack Handy and Alex Nesbitt on the wings, Nick Oxley at full-back and Eddie Saunders from the bench in the back row.

Handsworth kicked off and Burton took the ball through a couple of phases before Neal burst into the visitors' half only for a penalty to be conceded at the breakdown.

Moments later, Burton dominated the first scrum.

On six minutes, Handy gathered a kick on halfway and ran the ball back into the Handsworth 22.

From the next breakdown, Sam Smith hit a great line to break through the first-up defence and then stepped the full-back en route to the try line. Dave Archer added the conversion.

On ten minutes, Oxley made the first of many fine runs but on crossing the try line, lost control of the ball.

Burton then won the ball at the scrum and transferred it swiftly out to the left wing where Handy crossed for a try.

Loz Betty looked threatening in the centre on a couple of occasions but Handsworth defended well.

Burton were dominating the territory before Archer, playing at fly-half, weaved through from ten metres out to score and then convert.

Handsworth got a toe-hold in the game for the first time and were on the attack for several minutes before spilling the ball on the try line.

Moments later, a line break saw Oxley required to make a try-saving tackle.

The Burton forwards then rumbled up field with James Burrough, Josh Cartwright, Dave Henry and Ed Henry all involved, only for the backs to lose the ball in midfield.

After the break, Burton were immediately on the offensive and some slick handling produced an opportunity for Handy to cross for a second try.

Shortly afterwards, the same player received a yellow card for a tip tackle.

Burton then conceded a series of penalties which Handsworth used to try and drive over from line-outs.

However, the Burton defence was resolute.

Saunders, Ken Archer and Eddie Nicholls joined play from the bench.

Eventually Burton broke out of their half with a break up the right wing by Nesbitt. Entering the Handsworth 22, the colt did well to find support and allow the attack to continue before Archer crossed for a try which he then converted.

Handsworth then survived a series of scrums under their posts before going on the attack once more through some direct running before squandering a three-on-two.

Burton were more clinical in their next attack and slick handling gave Oxley a try which Archer converted.

Handsworth applied pressure before Daryl Banton ripped a ball from the maul and cleared to halfway.

Despite being 38 points down, the visitors continued to battle away and their efforts were rewarded with a try the next time they got close to the try line. A well struck conversion increased their tally to seven.

Burton split their forwards for a kick and retrieved the ball on the right wing before a high tackle ended the move and Handsworth were reduced to 14 men.

Burton pressed forward as the final whistle approached.

Archer produced some magic with a grubber kick which bounced up on the hard ground and a full-length dive to gather the ball and dot it down.

The conversion gave Archer a personal total of 25 points.

While perhaps not delighting the coaches overall, some good work from the debutants would have given them encouragement.

The Crofters' final warm-up game will be away at Paviors this Saturday before the league campaign gets underway with a visit to Scunthorpe on September 6.

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