Bury St Edmunds get back to winning ways in National 3
- Credit: Archant
In front of visiting RFU president-elect, Jason Leonard, Bury ended their recent run of poor performances with a much-needed win at The Haberden, moving back into second place in the process.
Having won four of their last five matches, Barnes arrived suitably buoyed and confident of inflicting Bury’s third straight loss.
For the opening 20 minutes, a nervy-looking home side struggled to contain the lively visitors – the Barnes set piece working well.
However, out wide it was the hosts, who capitalised on East Grinstead’s defeat at London Irish Wild Geese, that looked the more dangerous.
Barnes opened the scoring on 20 minutes, thanks to a Tom O’Toole penalty, after Bury were over eager at a ruck.
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Bury responded instantly however, scrum-half Shaq Meyers wriggling away down the blind-side before setting up an attacking ruck.
The ball was then swept to James Solomon who was untouchable from 30 metres out. The conversion was missed but Bury led 5-3.
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Bury then declined a very kickable penalty as Bury went for the try, but sadly the move came to nothing.
Barnes regained the lead just after the half hour when a slightly forward-looking pass was allowed to play on and a desperate scrambling defence was forced to concede a penalty that O’Toole converted.
Bury did not let the setback get to them and once again, responded in positive style, Sam Bixby taking the ball up to the line, before being hauled down, only for the ball to be transferred to Chris Snelling, who could not miss.
Brad Cook could not quite land the conversion from the touchline but he was successful with a 45-metre penalty during the last play of the half to send Bury into the changing rooms 15-6 ahead.
In contrast to last week, Bury dominated the second period.
Sam Bixby and the imperious Kieran Black were a force at the break down, whilst Greg White led a defensive line that rarely looked threatened.
Coach Gavin Hogg rotated his players, bringing on Loma Kivalu to bolster the front row and handing a debut to academy product Sam Bragoli-Jones.
They fitted in seamlessly as Bury began to find holes in the Barnes defence and Cook got on the scoresheet with a penalty after Tim Mann had powered up the middle, only to be a cynically denied a try-scoring chance.
Barnes did have chances to get back in the game, but over-elaboration and poor kicking denied them potential scores.
Ironically, Bury’s next score came from a Barnes attack. Bury stole an attacking lineout and kicked down field. Barnes full-back James Clarke retrieved the ball but his attempt to find winger Chris Lewis was intercepted by Chris Snelling for a unhindered run to the posts.
If that wasn’t bad enough for Barnes, Bury then scored directly from the restart. Bragoli–Jones stormed his way fully 40 metres through a bewildered defence. An attempt to chip the ball through fell kindly into the arms of Jesse Rush and he ghosted through a gap to dot down by the sticks. Cook once again added the extras.
With the bonus point in the bag, the game as a contest was over. Bury did not quite look after the ball as well as they ought but with Meyers, White, and Black putting in sterling shifts, there was to be no denying them.
With only a minute remaining Josh Goldspink was yellow-carded for tackling the man without the ball, and Barnes made the extra man count in the last play of the match, recycling the ball well and finding space for Will Alkin to dive over in the corner.