Gallant Bury St Edmunds go down to Bishop’s Stortford, 41-22

Bury St Edmunds entertain Bishops Stortford at the Haberden for their first match in the National Le

Bury St Edmunds entertain Bishops Stortford at the Haberden for their first match in the National League 2 South - Credit: Archant

Bury’s first venture into National 2 Rugby ended in defeat but they can take great heart from the performance.

Stortford, having just missed out on promotion via the play-offs at the end of last season, were many people’s tip for the title this season – but for 60 minutes Bury matched them and even led on the hour mark.

However the effects of having two men spend time in the sin bin and the sheer quality of the opposition finally told and in the closing quarter of the match Stortford scored 20 unanswered points.

The omens did not look good for Bury when Stortford took the lead after just three minutes. Right wing Harry Marner finished off a flowing move that silenced the majority of a decent 625-strong crowd.

However, Bury battled back well gaining a foothold in the game and then parity on the scoreboard from a Matt Hema try. The full back, who was plying his trade with Guernsey last season, was on the end of a fine miss pass after Ollie Snook had taken the ball up to the line and his forwards recycled the ball quickly.

Gill put Stortford back in front when he seized on a Bury line-out mistake but Snook hit a penalty almost immediately after the restart to keep Bury in touch at 14-10 down.

Stortford though went into the break with a comfortable cushion.

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Scrum-half Tom Banks was creating havoc all around the break down and he engineered the space for Sam Winter to show a clean pair of heels to his opposite number and score wide out, Gallagher’s fine conversion making the scoreline 21-10 at the break.

Stortford constantly looked to run the ball at every opportunity after half-time, an exciting thing to watch, but a trait which came back to haunt them.

Having turned the ball over in their own 22 they once again tried to show enterprise but Tim Mann robbed his opposite number in the tackle and powered over from 15 metres out, Snook’s fine conversion made it 21-17.

The pace at which Stortford wanted to play was really beginning to stretch Bury and it took a fabulous last ditch tackle by Gibson on the influential lock Hamish Irving to prevent a certain try.

Sadly Gibson had to hobble off to recover but it also saw crowd favourites Sam Bixby and Matt Edison enter the fray.

Bixby forced a knock on and Edison’s good work at the back of the scrum gave his three-quarters the time and space to send right wing Gary Andrews in by the corner flag to whoops of delight.

Just short of the hour and Bury led 22–21. However that was as good as it was going to get for the home side.

The influential half backs of Coleman and Banks, the latter earning his side a penalty which Gallagher converted, began to control the game.

The Bury scramble defence was really beginning to suffer and finally Gallagher forced his way over from close range.

Snook was the second Bury player to be shown a yellow card for deliberately knocking on the ball at a ruck and the already tired legs now really suffered for the closing 10 minutes.

A pacey effort from Hankin and a push-over try added gloss to the scoreline for Stortford.

But if Stortford are the benchmark for potential league leaders, then Bury can take a lot of positives from this game. It is a new squad with players bedding in, but they sent the Haberden faithful home with optimism that they can hopefully hold their own in this tough league.

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