GALLERY: Bury St Edmunds start new National 3 season with a defeat at Gravesend
A new-look Bury St Edmunds side slipped to a frustrating defeat to newly-promoted Gravesend, writes Simon Lord.
Bury had travelled with much hope and expectation as to their second season in National League 3, however as several new faces slowly bedded in, a fired-up home side snatched the win in this hard-fought tussle.
The opening exchanges were cagey as both teams tried to test each other out. Gravesend’s style of play was reminiscent of several sides in London 1 using forwards to crash up the middle time and time again and look to create penalties from a stretched defence.
An early penalty to the home side put Gravesend ahead but it was quickly cancelled out when Bury spun the ball wide and good hands by Samoa, Soloman and Rawcliffe put wing Christian King in for a score by the corner flag.
Rawcliffe missed the difficult conversion and then a more straightforward penalty shortly after. His counterpart also missed a very kickable penalty but then made no mistakes minutes later as Bury’s indiscipline cost them dear.
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Bury’s Kieran Black was sent to the bin just before the break for what the referee adjudged to be a tackle with no arms. Despite this Bury ought to have scored next, a fine counter-attack sending Eddison racing clear and with support on his right he opted to power for the line only to be held up just short.
On the stroke of half-time, Gravesend scored from one of their few moments of enterprise. A drifting Bury defence was exposed by the Black and Whites 13 who ghosted through a huge hole in midfield.
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Although the Bury scramble defence was good, numbers told and Gravesend finally made the overlap tell by scoring to the right of the sticks.
A chastened Bury began the second half looking a lot more focused and purposeful. The scrum continued to hold its own and Samoa and Rawcliffe began to make real in roads with ball in hand.
Bury laid siege to the Gravesend line and accumulated a series of penalties from players killing or slowing the ball down at the ruck.
Bury stayed patient, kept re-cycling the ball and engineered just enough room for lock Tim Young to score in the corner to make the score 13-all. The game seemed destined to end all square but as the game entered its final quarter, Gravesend seized their opportunity when it arose. A counter attack from deep in their own half had Bury on the back foot and when a penalty was conceded, Gravesend kicked to within metres of the line.
An infringement at the line-out saw the home side elect for a scrum 5m out. Bury’s pack with Adams, Gibson and Tivalu performing well on the front row, were under pressure and shifting backwards.
Goldspink dived in and kicked the ball out of an advancing scrum. Had the referee awarded a penalty try one would have had to accept it.
However he did not, then awarded the seven points at the next scrum when the Bury pack wheeled their counter-parts.