UNDER-STRENGTH Burton surrendered their unbeaten Midlands One West record at home to league leaders Lichfield on Saturday.
A brace of Tom Adams tries helped the visitors establish a 12-0 lead at the break.
Three further Lichfield scores followed in the second half, with Burton giving a packed Peel Croft something to cheer with tries from Tommy Cooper and Ed Henry.
Despite the 29-12 reverse, team manager Steve Briggs was upbeat following a tough series of fixtures.
“We’ve played the top five sides in the league during October,” said Briggs. “We’ve lost once to the top side, and we’ve put out a team that’s had many changes due to illness, injury and other commitments.”
“The lads that have come in today (Saturday) have played well. In the second half we showed a lot of heart compared to the first.”
Sam Benjamin, Will Brooks, Tom Murphy, Matt Tivey and Lawrence Betty were all absent, with Charl Neethling, Simon Bradley, Joe Gazzard and Ben Cook returning to the first-team squad.
Following a cagey start Burton, who had kept possession well, were undone when Lichfield inside-centre Tom Adams retrieved the ball in Burton territory and crossed the try-line unchallenged.
Luke Massey was unable to add the conversion, leaving the hosts trailing 5-0 after just four minutes.
Things got worse for the Crofters with the visitors adding a second try on 16 minutes.
Dave Lote and Adams traded passes down the flank, before the latter notched his second of the day.
Massey kicked the extras to extend Lichfield’s lead to 12-0.
The hosts were awarded a penalty 10 minutes later, but Dave Archer sent his effort wide.
Lichfield had two chances to kick three points themselves towards the end of the first half, but Adams and then Lote both failed to dissect the posts.
Hopes of a second-half comeback suffered a major blow seven minutes in.
Pressure from a Lichfield line-out on Burton’s 22 proved decisive.
Charles Milner off-loaded to Paul Maswell-Keys who wriggled through two players to score. Massey added the conversion.
A lifeline for Burton arrived on 59 minutes. Luke Peach stepped inside a Lichfield forward before flinging the ball to Cooper, who sprinted on to score in the corner.
Darryl Banton, who took over kicking duties after Archer was replaced at half time, was unable to add the extras.
Lichfield responded on 65 minutes. From a line-out in Burton territory play moved central.
Nick Southern emerged with the ball after a ruck, and dived over to extend the league leaders’ advantage to 24-5. The conversion attempt was missed.
Less than 10 minutes later Lichfield scored their final try of the day.
Scrum-half Will Cotterhill delivered to substitute Jon Evans, who found Derrick Squire to his right. And Squire touched down on the right flank.
The conversion attempt was again sent wide to keep the score at 29-5.
Burton had the final say when the pack bulldozed their way over the line in the dying seconds, with Henry touching down. Banton kicked the conversion to make the final score 29-12.
Briggs is now eyeing a return to winning ways this Saturday.
He said: “We move on to Malvern away and Market Bosworth the following week at home.
“We’ve had a good October. We’re second in the league and we can be pretty proud of that fact and we’ll go on from here stronger.”
BURTON : Neethling, Burrough, Bradley, Cartwright (C), Gazzard, Ed Henry, B Cook, Dutton, Banton, Peach, Gilmour, Brookes, Archer, Boden, Titley. Subs: Varney, Smith, Cooper.
LICHFIELD: Craddock, Clarke, Bassett (C), Thompson, Squire, Southern, Turner, Prior, L Massey, Maswell-keys, Milner, Adams, Rowlands, Lote. Subs: Abel, Evans, G Massey.
REFEREE: Steve Johnson.