Bury St Edmunds earn memorable win at Barnes
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Bury St Edmunds survived a late fightback, a nervous seven minutes of injury time and last play kick at goal, to deservedly take the spoils at a wet and windswept Barn Elms.
The previous game between the teams had seen Bury lose 28-27 and the opening exchanges were understandably scrappy as the over-eager teams struggled with the conditions.
Barnes had an early chance to take the lead but were guilty of obstruction as they tried to drive for the line.
The game’s defining moment came after 10 minutes. A Barnes scrum on halfway was smashed off its own ball as Bury’s front row destroyed their opponents. Brad Cook, Dan Collins and in particular Ben Cooper would go on to dominate the set piece for the visitors
Barnes did, however, take the lead despite being under pressure at a scrum.
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No 8 Crossland got the ball away and Bury strayed offside at the resulting ruck. O’Toole landed the straightforward kick for 3-0.
For the remainder of the half it was all Bury. Matt Hema returned the restart with interest, making 45 metres before being hauled down short.
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Matt Edison, as he was to do on regular occasions through the match, stole the line out and Bury continued to press.
After an initial period of trying to play expansive rugby, the players adapted their style to suit the conditions to great effect. Cronon Gleeson, Sean Stapleton and John Hall led the way in launching close quarter drives, making hard yards and forcing Barnes into errors.
A series of scrums on the Barnes try line looked to be heading for a penalty try, but Edison picked up and drove for the line.
He was stopped just short, but scrum-half Adam Marshall was on hand to dive over a pile of players and dot down by the sticks. Cook added the extras.
Barnes were having to defend for their lives as Bury seized on their superiority up front. Something had to give and flanker Chris Smyth was shown a yellow card for deliberately killing the ball at a ruck.
The Bury forwards showed no mercy and marched Barnes towards the try line. Referee David Clarkson had no option but to award a penalty try. Again Cook made no mistake and Bury were 14-3 up at the break.
Jo Reid replaced Ben Cooper at the break but it made little difference as the Bury scrum once again set up the field position for the third try.
Again a series of sensible close quarter drives finally created the space for skipper Josh Walker to burst through. His second row mucker John Hall then latched on to add the extra ballast, and he deservedly powered over. Cook landed the conversion from wide out.
Trailing 21-3, Barnes refused to lie down and after a first half where they had kicked aimlessly, suddenly Morgan was finding his radar.
A charged-down kick in their own 22 led to Bury having to defend their own line and Stapleton was shown yellow for slowing the ball down at the ruck. O’Toole made it 21-6.
Chris Lord and Chris Snelling combined well to almost send Marshall away down the blind side but the officials had seen a Barnes player being obstructed.
Bury were becoming increasingly desperate in their defence and a series of penalties conceded allowed Barnes to have a line out 10 metres from the try line.
The catch and drive worked well and a clean-shirted Sam Bixby was all too easily seen pulling the maul down. A penalty try was awarded to Barnes and Bixby was sent to the bin.
With the man advantage, Barnes kicked deep, turned the visitors and made them have to drive their way back up field from their own line.
The fired-up home side began to break through what had earlier been a resolute wall of lime green shirts. With the defence tied in, Morgan’s superb long cut out pass found Smyth on his own and he gleefully slid over out wide to make it 21-18.
Unlike Cook, O’Toole could not master the treacherous conditions and his kick was well wide.
With 10 minutes to go, Stapleton looked to atone for his errors with two storming drives and with Ben Cooper now back on the pitch, the Bury scrum once again created havoc for the home side, forcing a penalty, which Lord failed with.
Having gone beyond the 80 minutes mark, Barnes tried everything and seemed aided by a constant flow of penalties.
Bury refused to yield and Barnes had to resort to a penalty attempt from 40 metres to tie the match.
Unfortunately for O’Toole but deservedly for Bury, the kick skewed wide of the posts and the visitors were victorious.