GALLERY: Bury St Edmunds miss out on title glory at Barnes, after 28-27 defeat
- Credit: Archant
Bury St Edmunds’ promotion celebrations were put on ice as a last-gasp penalty try, the second awarded to Barnes in the second half, saw the game snatched from the west Suffolk club.
Bury, backed by three coach-loads of support, were hoping to make history by securing the victory that would take them to National 2, but will now have to get the job done at home to Gravesend next week, their final game of the season.
Unfortunately it was not to be as a fired-up Barnes, sitting second in the league, turned the screw up front late on, landing the match-winning try in controversial circumstances.
Barnes bossed the opening stages and got off to a dream start. Bury were adjudged to have been in front of the kicker as James Stevenson-Wright put in a high box kick from gathering the kick off.
The penalty was kicked to the corner and Luke Williams was bundled over by his fellow Barnes forwards. Tom O’Toole converted and Bury were behind within two minutes.
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The intensity of the game was furious and both sides turned the ball over. Bury continually incurred the wrath of referee Mr Cavigilla and another penalty award allowed the Barnes set-piece to create some space for their three-quarters.
O’Toole joined the line, fended of Tom Bird’s attempt to tackle and then slipped the ball back inside to Jones as the last defender approached. The conversion was good and Bury were looking down a barrel, trailing 14-0.
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Undeterred, Bury went on the attack and, with a strong wind against them, they kept the ball close, punching holes left and right, staying patient and working their way up towards the line. Sam Bixby battered his way over and Bird added the extras.
Barnes earned a penalty at the re-start, kicking for territory and looking to work the driving maul, but Bury stood up to the challenge and took control for the remainder of the half.
Again they stretched Barnes left, then right, before powering up to the line, where Beau Gibson proved unstoppable from five metres.
Most of the travelling faithful would have taken a two-point deficit going into the interval, but another blockbusting midfield tackle engineered a turnover for Bury and the ball was transferred quickly to Tim Mann, who seared past two floundering defenders for a rapturous score under the posts. Bird converted and Bury led 19-14. The second half began poorly for Bury, Loma Kivalu and Aaron Waters, both injury concerns in the run up to the match, were off and were replaced by Adams and Shaq Meyers. Jesse Rush’s kick-off was too long, the strong wind sending the ball dead and resulting in a scrum back on halfway
Once again Bury were soon to concede a penalty and Barnes resorted to type, kicking and then going for the driving maul.
The Bury defence stood firm and began earning turnovers. A penalty awarded to the visitors was optimistically kicked for goal from halfway, but Bird’s attempt fell short and wide.
Bury retrieved the ball, kept going round the corner and Bixby blasted his way over for a bonus point earning fourth try. Bird’s conversion came back off the post.
Another penalty award against Bury, who were leading 24-14, saw Barnes once again kick to the 22 and this time they organised the catch and drive well. The home side’s forwards drove towards the line, stopping a couple of metres short. Referee Cavigilla deemed it had been stopped illegally and awarded a penalty try.
The scoreline was close but Bury were generally in control and playing most of the rugby. Greg White received the ball in midfield and attempted a drop goal.
The kick went wide but Barnes were offside at the re-start and Bird landed the resulting simple penalty. Bury led 27-21 with ten minutes to go.
On another Bury attack, skipper Chris Snelling was unlucky to knock the ball on as he went for what would have been the match-winning score.
A yellow card was shown to one of the Barnes midfield for a high tackle in the build-up to Snelling’s attempt, but the home side managed to clear their lines from the resulting scrum six-metres out.
That seemed to deflate Bury who dealt with another attempted drive but then refused to kick deep to clear.
Then, almost out of nowhere the Barnes three-quarters managed to throw off the shackles and Kris Cottenden streaked away for what looked like a certain try.
Meyers made acres of ground to execute a fabulous last-gasp tackle before being penalised and yellow-carded for not releasing the player quickly enough.
To compound the decision, Barnes were then awarded the match-winning try from the resulting penalty.
The first scrum was halted before the second saw Malaney held up over the line.
The five-metre scrum was awarded to Barnes and Rob Malaney this time managed to get the ball down in the corner.
However the official deemed Bury were responsible for the wheel and deemed a penalty try more appropriate.
The closing 90 seconds of the match saw a desperate Bury try to reclaim the lead but Barnes were not to be denied.