BURTON RFC coach Steve Smith hopes that a good game of rugby can be played tomorrow against a Hereford side he accused of “underhand tactics” last time the teams met.
Back in November, the Crofters lost 13-8 at Wyeside, with skipper Josh Cartwright picking up a red card for retaliation.
And with Hereford themselves having a player sent off in last weekend’s defeat to Lichfield, Smith would like less aggression on Peel Croft tomorrow, kick-off 3pm.
He said: “The return fixture saw Josh red-carded for retaliation against what can only be described as underhand tactics from the opposition.
“It came as nothing of a surprise to me that one of the Hereford players was sent off last weekend for allegedly head butting an opponent (Lichfield’s Ollie Winter) and several other players being shown a yellow card.
“With us trying to play a quick expansive game, we hope that the referee in this return fixture will show some control of the game and the opposition to ensure a good game of rugby can be played.
“We are looking forward to another action-packed afternoon of fast flowing rugby and will be aiming to put on a show for the home spectators, whilst cementing fourth place in the league.”
Smith also believes that the next five weeks of the season – which see the Crofters take on Hereford, Northwich, Old Halesonians, Ludlow and Worcester Wanderers – will be crucial to that aim.
He said: “The next five weeks will make or break our season and the lads mean to finish with a bang.
“With Worcester and Old Halesonians – who are currently first and second in the league – up soon on Peel Croft, we plan to offer a couple of upsets in the run in, and who knows, even help Lichfield into a top two position!”
Burton beat Whitchurch last time out, and while Smith praised the way his side raced into the lead, he admitted he was disappointed with the way the refereeing decisions in the final 20 minutes, which saw their opponents get back into the match.
He said: “I was really pleased last week with some of our performance over the first 60 minutes against Whitchurch, where we ran in some excellent tries from all over the field to prove our side’s prowess of good quality attacking rugby.
“Unfortunately, the referee suddenly turned against us and decided, for whatever reason, to yellow card three of the team in quick succession, which helped to even the game up.
“It left the side and coaches really frustrated, as a result which was heading towards 60-0 ended up much closer than it should have done, while also spoiling what was turning into a very good game for us.”
Hereford are currently sixth in the league table, but a run of five games unbeaten – in which they defeated Stoke, Walsall, Stratford, Camp Hill and Berkswell & Balsall – was halted last weekend they lost 41-28 at home to Lichfield.
The squad has several changes this week, with one of Luke Peach, Will Peach or Ian Gilmour stepping into the fly-half role, as Dave Archer moves into the centre to replace Lewis Brooks, who has personal commitments this week.
In the pack, Jono Edwards returns to add some experience and aggression to help counteract what Smith expects to receive from Hereford.
There is also a change in the back row, as an injury to Joe Briggs means James Burrough, Jason Knight and Kelvin Browne line up in what looks to be a quick and powerful back row.
Ed Henry faces a fitness test for a place on the bench.
Smith said: “I also hope to be able to throw Matt Tivey back into action soon and look forward to seeing him taking apart an opposition front row before the end of the season.”
Club members’ are reminded that their Spring Raffle tickets need to be sold by Sunday, as after the weather of recent weeks, the need for extra financial input is very important to help boost flagging coffers.
Other teams at the club this weekend see the A XV also at home to Hereford, while the B team travel to play Handsworth. All matches kick off at 3pm.