Gallery: Bury St Edmunds lose top spot in National 3 after East Grinstead loss

Bury v East Grinstead rugby action.

Bury v East Grinstead rugby action. - Credit: Archant

Leaders Bury went down to a shock defeat as East Grinstead ran out worthy winners, following a dominant second half performance that saw them score two unanswered tries.

With the hosts in such a rich vein of form going into the match, expectation was high amongst The Haberden faithful.

However, on a dank and drizzly day, Bury, who drop to second in National 3 as a result, struggled to match a talented and fired-up opposition.

Grinstead were the pundits’ favourites for promotion at the start of the season and looking at the side assembled on paper, it was easy to see why.

Despite winning seven out of ten games going into the match, the sum of the parts had not been reflected in some of their performances – especially away from home, but on Saturday they put in a performance to show real promotion credentials.

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The first half was a bruising affair with both sides losing players to injuries as the sides locked horns.

The opening quarter belonged to the visitors as they penned Bury back in their own half, harrying and harassing the hosts into conceding penalties and fly-half Scott Meakin landed two successful kicks to make it 6-0 to the visitors.

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The second part of the half belonged to Bury as they upped the tempo and began putting Grinstead under pressure.

No 8 Adam Clayton was shown a yellow card for persistent offences at the break down and Bury made the extra man count with a converted score.

Several waves of attacks took Bury up to the Grinstead line and, having been held at bay a few times, fly-half Greg White powered over to the left of the sticks. Mike Sage added the extras and Bury led 7-6 at the break.

Whether through the disruption of injuries or the gloomy conditions, Bury seemed strangely subdued in the second half and Grinstead took advantage. The speed and tenacity of their defence and then commitment at the break down was better and they began to turn the screw.

Pressure at a scrum 15 metres out, resulted in referee Matt Rozier showing prop forward Connor Adams a yellow card after he had been deemed to be deliberately wheeling the scrum.

Grinstead made the extra man count at the fourth time of asking, skipper Mike Denbee driving over from close range. Meakin converted and the lead was now six points to the visitors.

Bury’s cause was not helped when Tanimo Samoa, playing his last game for the club, was yellow-carded for a high tackle. The diminutive centre has been an outstanding player and he will be sorely missed.

The tackle was not dangerous, but it was high, and Samoa spent 10 minutes of his last match on the sidelines.

Grinstead, with a two-man advantage, really turned the screw. The Bury players were forced to defend desperately – especially up front where the visiting forwards were in the ascendancy. Sam Bixby got through a tremendous amount of work to help repel the fired-up visitors.

Restored to 14 players and having conceded no further points, one wondered if Bury could snatch an unlikely victory.

Their cause was helped when Rozier issued his fourth yellow card, to Grinstead’s hooker Richard Townsend, for what appeared to be an accumulation of team offences.

Tristan Rawcliffe and skipper Chris Snelling engineered half chances, the latter having to leave the field after his foray due to injury, but the execution of recent weeks was just not there.

Grinstead, by contrast, looked determined and composed.

With just a few minutes to go the game was made safe. A penalty was kicked deep into the Bury 22.

From the resulting line out, the ball was caught and driven towards the Bury line.

As the initial thrust was slowed it seemed the whole Grinstead side joined the maul to drive Ash Halsey over for the try.

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