BURTON recovered from a poor start and then survived a late onslaught from Stratford to secure a promotion play-off against Derby.
The Crofters came back from an early 10-0 deficit, before hanging on to claim a 35-32 victory which seals second position in Midlands One West with one game still to go.
With a strong wind at their backs, Burton kicked off, pressurised Stratford and pinned them back.
Darryl Banton fielded a poor clearance kick and counter-attacked. However, the first collision left him hobbling for the rest of the game.
Lawrence Betty asked questions in the centre before the ball was lost and Stratford moved up the field.
A powerful drive from the home side resulted in a penalty which was taken quickly and resulted in a try. Fortunately for Burton, the kicker missed the first of numerous attempts.
As Burton pressed forward a stray pass allowed the hosts to pounce, and they streaked clear for a second try after only six minutes. The simplest of conversions was missed to keep the score at 10-0.
Five minutes later Will Roach, in for flu-victim Will Brooks, made ground in the Stratford half and Tom Murphy was on hand to crash over for a try which Banton converted.
Stratford then put Burton under considerable pressure. Eventually, the visitors counter-rucked on their 22 and Tom Harris stormed 40 metres up-field.
The ball was recycled and moved out to Dewi Williams on the left flank who touched down.
Banton’s conversion gave Burton the lead, before the game ebbed and flowed with both sides conceding penalties.
The Crofters’ next score came after a line-out steal from Josh Cartwright. Liam Hucknall made 30 metres before Sam Benjamin came off his wing and took the ball forward.
Despite a tap-tackle, Benjamin was adjudged to have grounded the ball and Banton added the conversion.
Stratford were then camped in the Burton half in a frenetic spell of play. And following repeated offences by the visitors Simon Bradley was given a yellow card.
Craig Dutton came on at prop, requiring Jono Parkinson to leave the field. Stratford took the scrum but broke off quickly and Burton held up the ball.
From the next scrum under the posts Banton did incredibly well to earn the Crofters a drop-out, which the referee turned into a penalty for dissent.
Harry Titley and Benjamin then combined to take the ball into the Stratford 22, but the move broke down and half time was blown.
Williams made a try-saving tackle to thwart Stratford in their first attack of the second half.
However, Burton lost a scrum against the head and the unconverted try arrived with the visitors still a man down.
Joe Gazzard then replaced Cartwright and in the next phase of play, James Burroughs made a strong carry before finding Hucknall in support.
Hucknall raced to the 22 but was felled by a tap-tackle, which forced him to leave the field to be replaced by Roach.
Burton maintained field position and shortly after Ian Gilmour took a quick penalty. He was supported by Parkinson who set up a ruck from which Roach crossed to score. Banton converted to give Burton a 28-15 lead.
Gazzard caught the kick-off and rumbled 20 metres forward. Harris and Roach took the ball on with the Crofters now in command.
The ball was held up over the line but Burton took the scrum against the head and span the ball out quickly.
For the second time in the game Stratford then benefited from a stray pass and raced clear to score. Burton lost a line-out shortly after and conceded a penalty on their 22.
The home side kicked for the corner and a well-worked drive brought a try – and their first conversion of the day followed.
Nerves were now showing in the Crofters’ play and the experienced Dutton was brought on to steady the ship.
From penalties Burton kicked to the corner twice and from the second line-out Gazzard slipped the ball to Dutton who went over in the corner. Banton produced a superb conversion.
Stratford repeated their catch and drive for a try to hit back. Again the conversion was missed, however Burton had upset the referee with complaints and Stratford restarted with a penalty.
Dutton turned over possession at the next play and Banton’s trusty boot made touch to close the game out.