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Stratford v Burton RFC: Match preview

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 11, 2014

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BURTON RFC can secure their place in the promotion play-offs this weekend – but they are also hoping to take a big step towards bringing that winner takes all clash to Peel Croft.

The Crofters travel to Stratford tomorrow, kick-off 3pm, for their penultimate game of the Midlands One West season, knowing a bonus-point victory would mean second place is theirs.

That would set up a play-off against the team who finish second in Midlands One East – likely to be rivals Derby – with the encounter taking place at the home of the club who finish with the highest points total.

Burton currently have 88 points, Derby have 90, but Steve Smith’s side have an extra game to play.

“The lads know what they’ve got to do,” said the director of rugby (pictured).

“It’s in our hands to get a home fixture.

“It would be great to get a home crowd and a massive home support.

“We’ll focus on every week as it comes and push forward for two more wins, which would hopefully give us home advantage in the play-offs.”

Given that their final two regular season games are on the road, Smith says having the play-off at home would be the ideal way to end the season, and backed the crowd to get the Croft – and his team – rocking.

“We have had a very loyal following for a long, long time, and we get a massive crowd for big games, like the local derby with Lichfield, so a play-off against Derby could fill the place,” he said.

“That does help, as they can be our 16th man.

“It would be great to finish on a high at home and Derby would be ideal for us, as local rivals.”

Dave Archer is out for the remaining two league games, but will have a fitness test on his hamstring injury next week and might have a chance of making the play-offs.

Matt Tivey is out for the season after picking up a rib injury.

They will be replaced by Simon Bradley and Dewi Williams respectively in an otherwise unchanged Burton XV.

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Smith. “Simon Bradley is a big unit, who hopefully is going to go in and do a cracking job.

“It’s time for him to shone.”

On the bench, Joe Gazzard replaces Eddie Nicholls, who is unavailable.

“We have got a couple of 6’5” guys on the bench who will make an impact,” said Smith.

“That gives us a really strong XVIII, not just a XV.”

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