08:34 Friday 24 January 2014

Burton RFC v Hereford: Match preview

Written byDAVID BROOME

BURTON RFC head coach Tom Barlow says his team face a must-win game against Hereford tomorrow if they are to avoid being “dragged back” into the pack chasing a play-off place in Midlands 1 West.

The Crofters currently occupy that crucial second spot, some way behind leaders Lichfield, but after a strong start to the season, have only won two of their last six games.

That run has seen third-placed Hereford close to within just three points, meaning they could overtake Barlow’s side with victory in tomorrow’s 2.15pm kick-off.

“The 18 we have selected will have to front up in what is expected to be wet conditions in Hereford,” said Barlow.

“We will be using the bench to rotate the players to keep them working at 100 per cent throughout the game.

“And we feel we must go all out to win this game, otherwise we will be dragged back into the pack in the hunt for second place in the league.”

Sam Smith could make a second debut for the Crofters this weekend, with the winger due to rejoin the club on loan from Leicester Lions, subject to RFU paperwork.

Burton were forced into seven late changes last week due to injury and illness, but Barlow and his fellow coaches are hoping to pull a squad together to counter the expected physical contact that Hereford always pose at their home ground.

“Burton’s pack will face the challenge head on, with a front five consisting of (Charl) Neethling, (James) Burrough, (Matt) Tivey, (Josh) Cartwright and (Will) Brooks, to hopefully provide the firepower in scrum and lineout,” said coach Steve Smith.

“The challenge is being laid down to these key players to ensure they work harder off the ball than their opposite numbers and carry the ball hard into the opposition.”

Damon Varney will be retained in the back row following a “dynamic” man-of-the-match performance playing at blindside in last weekend’s 37-23 defeat to Whitchurch.

The back row will be made up with Joe Briggs and Craig Dutton.

A late decision will be made on Daryl Banton, who is still recovering from an injury picked up two weeks ago, and may miss out on selection.

Burton are currently seeking a volunteer to take charge of the club’s Bees team, with the successful candidate given kit, support to attend any coaching coaches and expenses.

Anyone interested should contact Steve Smith on steve@castele.co.uk or 07809 705418.

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