Bury pip a gallant Mersea to the post

MERSEA Island came agonisingly close to pulling off a major cup upset in the Suffolk Cup semi-final against Division Two North side Bury St Edmunds.

MERSEA Island came agonisingly close to pulling off a major cup upset in the Suffolk Cup semi-final against Division Two North side Bury St Edmunds.

Despite being two divisions below their opponents, the Essex side went into the match with an unbeaten home record for the season and top of London 4NE.

Every Island player lifted their game, playing with huge heart, determination and passion - the result of which was a half-time lead and a late fight that almost won them the match.

Unfortunately, the extremely hard fought cup-tie came at a costly price for Mersea, with centre Mike Fields and flanker Steve Haycock both leaving the field with first-half injuries. Cornishman Haycock now requires surgery after breaking his arm.

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After falling behind to an early penalty, Mersea quickly got into their stride and began dominate the play.

The hosts duly took the lead when centre Walters side-stepped his opposite number and released Dan Kerr in for the first of his two tries. Jon Williams converted for a 7-3 lead.

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Despite the slope advantage, Mersea's slow start to the second half proved costly as Bury ran in two quick tries to re-take the lead.

Mersea did not fold, however, and skipper Dave Bredin once again led his team from the front.

The visitors were forced into making errors and eventually the referee sin-binned the Bury prop and Williams slotted the penalty to bring the scores to 15-10.

Entering the final quarter Mersea took the game to their opponents, but their open rugby saw the ball turned over and Bury's flying Fijian winger ran in for a converted try.

Mersea heads still did not drop and, from the re-start, Mersea secured a line-out and, from the resultant catch-and-drive move, the Mersea pack drove over the line and Stu Priestley emerged from the melee of players to claim the score.

Bury hit back with another breakaway try, which was so nearly stopped by the heroic chase back efforts from Stu Bradshaw.

The Islanders refused to lie down and, after some sustained attacks near the visitors line, Paul Le Marquand created space for Kerr to power through for his second try. Williams duly converted.

The final few minutes were frantic, with Mersea trying hard to find one more piece of magic to break through, but Bury were able to clear their lines and just about hold on for a slim victory.

n Bury St Edmunds brewer Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of England Rugby and Harlequins, is to sponsor a brand new exhibition at Twickenham's Museum of Rugby celebrating the historical links between the club and its close neighbour, the Rugby Football Union.

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