A WILL Roach try 10 minutes from time secured a hard-fought 21-19 victory over previously unbeaten Whitchurch.
The impressive Sam Benjamin also notched two tries while Dave Archer kicked a brace of penalties as the Crofters registered their fifth win in as many matches to remain second in Midlands One West behind leaders Lichfield.
“The lads showed great spirit,” said director of rugby Steve Smith. “To go behind with 20 minutes to go and a man down – we’re delighted to have got the victory.
“We defended well, tackled well and took the game to them. We were dominant at the scrum and while defending with 14 is tough, we managed to work hard during that period.
“We’ll take one match at a time, and even though we’re near the top, it’s all about keeping our feet firmly on the ground.”
The match saw Ben Cook make his first senior start, while Lawrence Betty continued at inside centre with Harry Titley at full-back.
It all started well for the Crofters. From the kick-off Burton retrieved the ball on the far side.
Benjamin seized possession from the ruck and sprinted through the visitors’ backs to score with less than a minute on the clock.
Archer missed the conversion to keep the score at 5-0.
The early advantage was short-lived as Whitchurch came straight back at the hosts. On five minutes the visitors pressed towards Burton’s 22.
Scrum-half Darryl Banton kicked into touch to temporarily relieve the pressure.
Whitcurch scrum-half Alex Caldwell received from the line-out. His pass found Paul Andrews who made ground.
As he was taken down the ruck formed, but Burton were penalised for players going in off their feet.
A quickly taken tap-and-go was touched down by fly-half Danny Nicholas who only had a few yards to make.
Nicholas converted his own try to give Whitchurch a 7-5 lead.
Back came Burton and a successful Archer penalty put the hosts back in front at 8-5.
The match was turning into a feisty affair and Archer’s up-an-under kick led to a brutal collision with Whitchurch’s Andrews.
Both were shaken but able to continue.
On 20 minutes, Caldwell’s pass found fly-half Nicholas who then delivered to prop Steve Bloore as Whitchurch pressed forward.
He was tackled by Craig Dutton, but from the ruck Caldwell was able to find Henry Hockenhall for an unconverted try.
Six minutes later Burton retook the lead. Luke Peach broke through and released Roach despite being tackled.
Cook then took possession and was brought down on the 22.
The ball found its way to Harry Titley. He delivered to Benjamin who could not be stopped.
Archer’s conversion miss left Burton 13-12 ahead.
At the start of the second half the visitors were given a great opportunity to take the lead.
But a penalty for a high tackle on Ryan Horton was sliced wide by Nicholas.
Burton immediately came back. Peach handed off to Betty who touched down – but a teammate was adjudged to have obstructed a defender.
Play was brought back for an earlier infringement however, and Archer kicked the three points for a 16-12 lead with half an hour to go.
Burton’s hoped were dealt a blow when Charl Neethling was sent to the sin-bin for allegedly stamping on a player.
With the numerical advantage Whitchurch took advantage almost straight away.
The hosts were pressed deep in their own half. Banton failed to catch a pass which was picked up by Nicholas who scored a simple converted try.
On 70 minutes, despite still being a man down, Burton scored the crucial final try.
Roach touched down on the far side after a series of passes from substitutes Joe Briggs and Ian Gilmour. The conversion was missed but Burton led 21-19.
The tension built in the dying minutes but despite Whitchurch pressure Burton held on for the win.
BURTON: Murphy, Borrough, Tivey, Cartwright (C), W. Brooks, Roach, Cook, Dutton, Banton, Peach, Benjamin, Betty, Archer, Boden, Titley. Subs: Neethling, Briggs, Gilmour
WHITCHURCH: Hale, Giddings, Bloore, Bates (C), Hollins, Dodd, Cope, Rees, Nicholas, Thornton, Andrews, Hockenhall, Skone, Horton. Subs: Allman, Blackhurst, Charlesworth.
REFEREE: Tim Simmons.