On a firm pitch and with a strong breeze, Albion finally produced the goods they had been seeking for many weeks and to hide a disappointing second half of the season. This was a convincing victory over Burnham, to whom the Dirtrackers had lost away in November. Albion fielded probably their strongest side of the season including three members of the Steward family – father Larry and sons Dan and Olly with another son actually appearing for Burnham – a real family affair.
At the end of the first half the odd one out of the Steward family may have been contemplating taking the spoils back with him, as his side led 22-12 at the interval, using the strong breeze to considerable advantage. However it was Albion who got on the score sheet first after a busy start when Hobbs and Ball made severe inroads and Stradling picked up to crash over.
Burnham hit back using the breeze and their excellent stand-off jinked his way through several half-hearted tackles for a try and conversion. He repeated the dose six minutes later as Albion tried to make headway, but only yielded the ball and the stand-off hacked on and collected a favourable bounce to score. The same player then extended his side’s lead with a penalty goal from 45 metres. Albion – now facing a considerable deficit – fought back with Drabble setting off on one of many long breaks well supported by Hambleton.
When the ball became loose, Drabble pounced and crossed for Frost to convert. Burnham however hit back and after another Albion passing move had broken down, the visitors’ stand-off forced his way over for his hat trick. Albion pressed just before half time with Drabble the continual spark but the Burnham defence held.
Albion rang many changes at half-time from their squad of 29 and there was an immediate response. Russell took the ball on, Drabble supported and James Kerry held on to the pass to score. In the 51st minute Albion drew level when they cleverly kept Burnham in their own 22 and after several sorties, Rogers crashed over. Seven minutes later excellent concerted passing involving Norman and Olly Steward resulted in Willis going over for Albion to take the lead for the first time since the fourth minute.
Further excellent inter-passing freed up Russell to score. In the last 10 minutes Albion continued to pressurise the Burnham defence and Straddling grabbed his second try for Coates to convert and in the final minute with Burnham desperately trying to run out of defence, Lang intercepted and crossed for Frost to add the extras.
A result and performance – a long-time coming but well worth the wait and hopefully this will take Albion clear of any relegation suggestions with their final match at Wyvern to come on 13 April.
Team: Willis; Hambleton Ball Tidball Richards; D Steward Drabble; Stradling O Steward Frost Hobbs L Steward Ruddle Norman Gibson.
Replacements: Played – Rogers Coates J Kerry Walford Buck Lloyd Sluman Lang Moulding Russell McCarthy Sparkes. Not played – Miller Pearce.
Tries: Stradling (2) Drabble J Kerry Rogers Willis Russell Lang. Conversions: Frost (2) Coates.