GALLERY: Bury St Edmunds throw away victory at Westcombe Park
- Credit: Archant
Bury were left scratching their heads as to how they managed to lose this game in sunny Orpington.
Their five-game unbeaten run looked to be extending to six when Sam Bixby scored early in the second half to make it 29-13 to the visitors.
Instead, the game slipped from Bury’s grip as Westcombe Park chipped away at the lead, eventually getting themselves ahead with just six minutes to go. Even then, Bury had the chance to snatch the game back when they mounted a series of close quarter drives for the line.
Referee Jack Lewers indicated that Bury had a penalty advantage but, when four plays later the ball was lost, he blew not for a penalty under the posts but for full time.
Bury skipper Matt Edison was rested along with Charlie Pask and Jamie Cooke, allowing a debut for Culford School’s Malcolm Osando and further game time for George Stokes.
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Combe’s fly-half Gordon kicked his side into an early three point lead after just three minutes, but Bury hit back and Chris Snelling finished off good work from Dan Garrad to score in the corner.
Bury scored their second try on 21 minutes when, after winning a scrum against the head, Logan Dodds powered over the line with Jesse Rush adding the extras for 12-3.
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Garrad made it 19-3 when he picked off a speculative pass, before racing 60 metres untouched to score under the posts. Then, in a see-saw end to the half, Combe scored twice, while Bury added a fourth, and bonus point-earning, try through Tanimo Samoa.
Bury went into the second half leading 24-13 and extended their lead in the opening minutes. Ben Radmall, with Beau Gibson latching on, pressed deep into the Park 22 and Sean Davies, Aaron Waters and Joe Davis edged Bury closer to the line before Bixby had enough space to squeeze over in the corner.
The joy was slightly tempered by the loss of Waters to a shoulder injury but, 29-13 up, the points were surely heading up the M11.
Relegation-threatened Combe rolled their sleeves up and aided and, abetted by several penalty awards, they began to turn the screw. Superb Bury defence looked to be doing the business but then a moment of magic by left wing Tom Gray changed the complexion of the match.
Gray burst through three would-be tacklers and raced downfield. Fixing the last defender, he sent Nattrass away and although Casey Stone did well to drag him down close to the line, the support arrived in numbers and Barton gleefully dived over. Gordon’s superb touchline conversion narrowed the gap.
A series of penalties awarded against Bury seemed to point to an inevitable yellow card, however when it came it was the unfortunate Tim Mann. Offside but trying to keep out of the way of play, he was punished and sent to the bin.
Park took advantage of the numerical advantage to power their way up to and over the line. Flashman being awarded the score. The conversion brought the scores to just two points difference with 13 minutes left.
With Dodds having to be replaced, Bury’s cause was not helped when Samoa was sin-binned, one of the large Combe forwards being stopped dead in his tracks by the south sea Islander.
Gordon kicked the resulting penalty and Park led 30–29 with just six minutes remaining.
Bury refused to accept defeat and, restored to 14 men for the last two minutes, they launched that final but ultimately floored last attack.