National 3 leaders Bury St Edmunds edging closer to promotion after Westcombe Park win

Bury St Edmunds v Westcombe

Bury St Edmunds v Westcombe - Credit: Gregg Brown

Bury remained unbeaten in 2015 and took another small step towards promotion to National Division 2.

Second-placed London Irish Wild Geese suffered a shock home defeat to Guernsey but, with Barnes convincing winners at Gravesend, it was important Bury didn’t slip up ahead of their daunting trip to East Grinstead, the only side to have beaten Bury at The Haberden this season, next week.

Combe certainly shaded the possession charts and perhaps ought to have earned at least a bonus point.

The hosts made the early breakthrough though, Tim Mann sauntering in under the posts, Tom Bird converting the try.

Seven minutes later, a promising Combe attack got too elaborate. One loop and optimistic pass too many went to ground and Bury skipper Chris Snelling pounced and sprinted home from 70 metres.

Bury had the edge up front but Combe were showing far more enterprise and the penalty count against the home side was racking up as they infringed at rucks and tackles.

Combe kicked tactically back but failed on more than one occasion to make good field positions count.

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Time and again Bury were forced to dig deep in defence although Combe, for all their pretty play, lacked a cutting edge in attack.

The latter stages of the half saw Combe camped in the Bury 22 and when the hosts transgressed once too often in the “red zone”, George Bretag-Norris was sent to the sin bin.

The men from Kent made the extra man up front count as they earned a penalty try at the fourth time of asking having taken a scrum at an initial penalty seven metres out.

Starting the second half a man down, Bury were forced to dig deep in defence.

Scrum-half James Stevenson-Wright was called to action at both ends of the field. First he looked to be heading for a score only to be brought back by referee Peter Coulthard for alleged crossing, then he was quickest to react to a clever Humphries kick through, winning the race to the ball to touch down behind his own line.

Bretag-Norris’ return was offset by the loss of prop Luke Beales hobbling off but it was Bury now on the charge and Park conceding the penalties.

Bird landed a well-struck penalty after 50 minutes to nudge Bury a further 10 points ahead.

That lead ought to have been reduced but somehow Combe managed to butcher a glorious three on one overlap and with it, perhaps the chance to get back in the match.

Park tried in vain to push Bury back but the Bury forwards epitomised by man of the match, Aaron Waters, drove the blue and white hoops back time and again at scrum time.

Snelling darted down the line, only for an ankle tap to bring him down, but the Bury forwards used their tried and trusted piston routine to gain both yards and then a penalty.

Now it was Park conceding penalties in their own 22 and finally referee Coulthard’s patience snapped and Luke Bellinger was shown the yellow card.

Bury pressed for a penalty try of their own but made a hash of the attack. However they stole the resulting line out and, having driven in field, Kieran Black threw a long reverse pass back to Ollie Watson. Watson, making his debut for the club, had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds and marked the occasion with a rousing sprint to the try line.

The bonus point did not take long to follow. Bird wriggled away and then released James Solomon into acres of space.

A score seemed certain but Josh Penney did superbly to haul the Kiwi Flyer down. However Tim Mann was up in support and used good footballing skills to dribble his way over the line for the vital try.

Combe continued to throw caution to the wind and finally crossed the white wash when Ben Hough dotted down with a couple of minutes remaining.

Bury did finish the game on the attack and on another day might have rued making a mess of a penalty in the visiting 22.

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