Bury St Edmunds face 'first proper test' of the season with 600-mile round trip to Barnstaple
PUBLISHED: 10:41 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:55 22 September 2017
Head coach, Ollie Smith, admits that his new-look Bury St Edmunds side face their "first proper test" this weekend, with tomorrow's National League Two South away fixture at Barnstaple (kick-off 2.30pm).
After disappointing in their opening day fixture, a 50-17 home defeat to newly-promoted Tonbridge Juddians at The Haberden, Bury have responded well with wins at Broadstreet (20-16) and against visiting Old Redcliffians (28-20) last weekend.
But tomorrow’s North Devon outing will be the biggest challenge of all Bury’s first four matches.
“So far, we have played against three teams who are new to this division,” explained Smith, before embarking on the long 600-mile round trip to Barnstaple.
“We will see where we are, in terms of National League Two standard, this weekend. Away at Barnstaple is the first proper test for us.
“I feel that we are making progress, as a team. But we are no where near where we want to be yet. We have still got a lot to get right, and a lot to progress. We are a new group of players and so we are still developing, but as I’ve been saying to the lads, we can’t keep using that as an excuse.
“I think we have deserved to win our last two matches, so that’s pleasing. We hung on against Broadstreet, while we showed good character to come back from 20-6 down against the Old Reds last weekend.
“True, we are making it hard for ourselves at the moment. I thought it would be close, going into the final 20 minutes against the Old Reds, when I thought they would tire, but with a new group of players you don’t really want to be 20-6 down going into the last 20 minutes!
“But we dominated the last quarter of the game and played some good rugby,” added Smith.
Late tries from Sean Stapleton, Chris Snelling and Mark Kohler sealed Bury’s first home win of the campaign, although they missed out on a fourth try bonus point.
Snelling took a heavy knock to the head late on in that game, and so is one of several players missing for this weekend.
Smith said: “We will be making several changes. We have quite a few injuries, but this is an opportunity for the guys coming to in to stake a claim for the shirt.
“Chris (Snelling) took a heavy knock. He’s OK now, but he will have two weeks away with the concussion rule.”