BURTON RFC will be hoping third time is a charm this weekend as they seek to end Lichfield’s mini-hoodoo over them.
The Crofters’ local rivals have won the two meetings between the clubs so far this season, and coach Steve Smith insists his side will be going all out to put the record straight when they travel to Cooke’s Field tomorrow, kick-off 2.15pm.
He said: “Lichfield have beaten us twice previously this season, and so have to go into the game as massive favourites, and I am sure they will think that they will be able to beat us for a third time this season.
“The challenge we have laid down to our players is pretty simple, forget about every other game and focus on this game only and that is probably something we will do now until the end of the season.”
The two previous fixtures between Burton and Lichfield this season have been very close affairs, with Burton losing the league fixture on Peel Croft 22-18, and then being beaten 33-30 away in the County Cup.
Currently lying one place above Burton in the league table in third, Lichfield are having a somewhat patchy season.
Having started really well and looking very nearly invincible, their form stuttered in November and December before recovering somewhat in the new year to see them winning 14 of their 18 matches.
But defeats against Stoke, Worcester and Walsall shows that they are beatable even when playing on their own ground.
While they possess several talented players and have scored plenty of tries it is Burton’s youngsters who, providing they can control their own set pieces, have just as much pace out wide to create chances and get the tries needed for a victory.
Smith is also hoping his side can bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Stoke, where they led 15-3 before eventually losing 17-15.
He said: “Having been the far better side for at least three quarters of the game, last week’s narrow defeat to Stoke was a bitter pill to swallow and the players have got to learn how to kill off and close out games.
“Having been 15-3 up we should really have been playing for territory and forcing Stoke to score from deep inside their own half.
“But with several poor decisions, running the ball in our own half, and some bad kicking, we put ourselves under needless pressure.”
Burton will be largely unchanged, with Charl Neethling coming into the front row, Simon Bradley moving to the A team due to work commitments and Kelvin Browne rejoining the back row in place of Jason Knight, who moves onto the bench.
Newcomer James Burrough will also make the bench this week after a couple of very good performances for the A team since his arrival.
Sadly, the club’s president, John Lowe, will not be making the short journey to Lichfield this time, having lost his battle with cancer on Sunday at St Giles Hospice.
Earlier in the week he had correctly predicted that England would beat Ireland in the Six Nations, and he waited until the final whistle sounded in Dublin before closing his eyes for one last time, passing away peacefully surrounded by his family.
John was truly one of the good guys, a wonderful man, who gave everything he had to any cause he supported.
Always a team player who could be relied upon, John would never shirk his responsibilities and tackled any task he had with dignity and resolve.
However, he never shouted about his efforts, he only praised those of others, and so unfortunately possibly too few people are aware of the time and commitment he actually gave to Burton RFC.
His solid Yorkshire grit and courage especially shone through in his last few days as he suffered silently, fighting the increasingly agonising pain of his illness, but this was the man we all respected and loved and the club’s thoughts and condolences go to all his family.