Bury Saints advance into national final after Sussex Thunder win

LB Chris Smith (51), and DL Spencer Renfro (59) in pursuit of Thunder RB

LB Chris Smith (51), and DL Spencer Renfro (59) in pursuit of Thunder RB - Credit: Archant

After a thrilling triple overtime win over Sussex Thunder, the Bury Saints remain unbeaten and now advance to the Division 2 national final, at The Rose Bowl, Hinkley, Leicestershire on Sunday.

Bury opened the game and, helped by strong running by running backs Derek White and Chris May, soon moved the ball to the Sussex 16-yard line. Jake Swisher then powered his way to a first-down at the six-down at the six-yard line. Further runs by White, Swisher and quarter-back Fred Boyle failed to break into the end-zone.

Bury started from their own 20-yard line and methodically worked their way down the field behind Swisher, White and May. But once again, the Sussex defence toughened up when it needed to and stopped the Saints on fourth-down at their own 19-yard line.

Sussex would not be denied and, mixing run and pass plays, powered home from the Bury four-yard line for the go ahead score in eight plays. The extra point kick was good for 7-0 lead.

Bury responded immediately. Quarter-back Boyle hit wide-receiver Evin Reese for 12 yards before running back White added another four yards on the ground. Boyle found Reese again for a short pass completion and then went deep to wide receiver Joey Etheridge for 34 yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. The two-point attempt failed but the score had been narrowed to 7-6.

Sussex had the ball first in the second half but an interception by Donterio McIntosh gave possession to Bury just inside their own half. The Saints offence struggled against the tough Thunder defence and a quarter-back ‘sack’ forced them to punt the ball after just three plays.

But Randell Sorensen’s kick hit a Sussex player and running back Swisher pounced on the loose ball to give the home side the ball at the Thunder’s 19-yard line.

Most Read

The Saints soon took advantage. A short run by White was cancelled out by a penalty against Bury before Boyle connected with Reese with a pin-point pass from 22 yards out.

White ran in the two extra points to give the Saints the lead, 14-7.

Pass completions of eight, 11 and 13 yards helped move the ball to the Saints nine-yard line from where Sussex powered home for the touchdown. The extra point was good and the game was tied at 14-14 and the game went into sudden death overtime.

Sussex had the first opportunity to score, but they missed another field goal, and the Saints took the field needing a score to win the game.

It was a tense affair and Saints had the ball as the game went to its third period of overtime.

Bury kept the ball on the ground and powered their way to the Sussex three-yard line in four plays. Swisher was stopped for no gain before he powered over the left side of the line for a touchdown. Boyle ran in the crucial two extra points for 22-14 lead.

Sussex had to match the score on their next drive to save the game and they got a touchdown to narrow the score to 22-20.

With nerves at breaking point, the visitors needed to convert the extra points attempt from the three-yard line to keep the game alive. But as the Sussex quarter-back rolled to his right and sped towards the Bury end zone, Rob Love and Hill broke free and combined to drag him down short of the goal line.

The Saints now take on the Bristol Apache in this Sunday’s final.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter