GALLERY: Bury St Edmunds go top of National 3 with London Irish Wild Geese win

Bury St Edmunds entertain London Irish Wild Geese in difficult conditions at the Haberden on Saturda

Bury St Edmunds entertain London Irish Wild Geese in difficult conditions at the Haberden on Saturday and their victory sent them to the top of the National League 3 London and SE. A large crowd watches the enthralling match in freezing conditions - Credit: Archant

Bury put in a stirring display in atrocious conditions to go top of National Three.

In a game played through wind rain and snow, the league’s top two sides slugged it out for the right to be top of the table come 5pm.

Bury, urged on by a bumper crowd, despite the awful weather, just had that little bit more than their illustrious visitors to earn the win.

Understandably, considering the weather, the game never developed into an open flowing affair. Rather it was a battle of attrition played mainly in the middle of the park.

The visitors were the first to register points on the board when Gavin Dunne slotted a simple penalty on three minutes – Bury guilty of a ruck offence.

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Six minutes later Mike Sage had the chance to level when Irish transgressed at a ruck but his effort slipped wide.

Irish made a hash of the 22 restart and when a hurried clearance kick was charged down, Matt Edison had the chance to score but he couldn’t hold on to the ball.

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The conditions inevitably led to little errors but it was Bury that were just shading the battles. Crucially, however, they twice missed touch with penalty kicks that saw good opportunities go begging. Sage did level the scores on 26 minutes after the Irish had to resort to a penalty to stop a series of promising drives.

On 30 minutes the game saw a rare moment of magic that resulted in a try for Bury.

Having been awarded a penalty in their own 22, the ball was spun down the line rather than the expected kick for touch. Catching the visitors off guard, Bury made good ground and Shaq Meyers was put in to space.

He advanced over the half way line, avoiding a couple of wouldbe tacklers before kicking ahead as the next rank of defenders approached. The kick was expertly weighted and skipper Chris Snelling won the race to slide over the line with the ball for a cracking score. Sage added the extras and it was 10-3 to Bury.

Just before the break, the Wild Geese ought to have evened things up when an attacking scrum created a two-on-one down the blindside.

However, scrum-half Tom Barker chose to go for glory rather than fix the defender and pass, and so the chance was missed.

However Bury then failed to clear the ball properly and were forced in to conceding a penalty in front of the sticks. Dunne’s simple conversion was the last act of the half with Bury leading 10-6.

Irish burst out of the blocks in the second period, immediately pinning Bury back. A superb cross field kick almost saw winger Jordan Gott score but he was just knocked in to touch as he went for the try.

The weather was not getting any better and both teams looked to kick deep and turn each other round. However, in such conditions it was never going to result in teams running the ball back with vigour.

The game was always going to be won by the team that defended best and just before the mid-point came another defining moment. The Geese won a penalty and kicked to within seven metres of the Bury line.

Bury stopped the initial catch and drive but the visitors re-grouped and went again. However the Bury defence was up to the challenge and cut the attack down, earning themselves a scrum and chance to clear their lines.

The midfield arm wrestle continued with both sides trying their hardest to find a hole in each others’ defence. Bury strayed off side at a ruck and Dunne landed his third successful penalty to make it 10-9.

Then, the home side hounded the visitors back in the tackle forcing them into a defensive line out on their own 22.

Again Bury wouldn’t let the visitors escape and drove them back to the try line almost suffocating the men in black.

Desperately the ball was thrown wide but it was not a wise option and after consultation with his linesman, referee Andrew Macneaney deemed Snelling had pounced on the loose ball for an opportunistic try. Considering the underfoot conditions, Sage’s conversion from the touchline was outstanding.

Bury’s lead nearly became unassailable directly from the re-start. Kivalu fielded the kick off and drove through a tiring defence before releasing the flying Solomon.

The Kiwi looked destined to score but an amazing last gasp tap tackle brought him down.

Bury, however, were not to be denied and they kept the visitors at arms length.

Irish threw everything they could at Bury but the hosts were not to be denied.

The icing on the cake came when a dominant Bury scrum earned a penalty that Sage calmly dispatched with glee.

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