bury return to winning ways

OPENING TRY: Jacob Bodkin made it a memorable first-team debut after going over to score the first of Bury St Edmunds two tries in Saturdays victory

OPENING TRY: Jacob Bodkin made it a memorable first-team debut after going over to score the first of Bury St Edmunds two tries in Saturdays victory

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

TWO SOUTH

Bury St Edmunds 20

Worthing 10

Bury captain Dan Collins admitted there was disappointment in the camp after not being able to put Worthing out of sight and claim a bonus point.

For the second home game running the Wolfpack were unable to build on a start to take maximum points by claiming the four-try bonus point.

After two early tries, from debutant winger Jacob Bodkin and Irish centre Sam Stirling, raised hopes of a demolition, just like against Clifton (30-10 win) two weeks previously, Bury were forced to put up a rearguard action to claim victory, defending their own line for most of the second half.

“It was one of those where you let the bonus point get away, admitted Australian hooker Collins.

“Worthing, credit to them, really came out and stuck it to us those first 20 minutes of that second half and we took until the end of the half just to react to that.

“But the positive is we have taken the bonus point away from them and come out of the game with four points. And two (wins) out of three so far is not a bad start.”

And Collins believes a focus on the darker arts of the game is paying dividends.

He said: “We have been working really hard on our defence as our attack will look after itself and if we get our defence spot on and control our points, all the pressure is on them.”

With Pierre Peres still out with an ankle injury, Colchester-based Army player Sailasa Vunivesilevu, who has been playing for Terry Sands’ Samurai 7s, made his home debut at scrum-half while fellow Colchester Army Fijian Makulusio Koroiyadi was back at the club after his spell during the second half of last season with the number eight among the replacements.

Flanker David Micklethwaite, who had made a positive impact as a replacement in the disappointing 36-7 defeat at Bishop’s Stortford last weekend, was rewarded with a start while Connor O’Reilly, like Bodkin recruited from attack and kicking coach Justin Loveridge’s Woodbridge over the summer, was poised for his debut on the bench.

Bury survived an early maul close to their line when Worthing, with two wins from two, were penalised and the visitors missed the chance to take the lead when Mathew McLean kicked a straight penalty wide.

A surging run from Shaq Meyers, back in the centres, proved the catalyst for the home side to register the game’s first try 12 minutes in.

From the ruck Vunivesilevu started off a move through swift hands to the right wing ending with Michael Mellet playing in Bodkin to run over. McBride, who had struggled with his kicking in his debut at Bishop’s Stortford, did well to put a tricky conversion over.

Bury doubled their lead in the 16th minute when, following a scrum midway into their opponents’ half, Sterling suddenly burst through a gap in the midfield with a strong drive for the line seeing him hold off a late tackle. McBride put his simple kick over for a 14-0 lead.

Raiders got on the scoreboard three minute later when Mclean made no mistake, this time from a long-range penalty after Sam Bixby had been called up for holding on.

The Wolfpack, who had seen their lineout falter, responded by putting more pressure on their opponents’ line but without being able to make it count.

The nearest they came was when another strong Meyers run saw Mellet released down the left but the summer signing was pulled up just before the try-line with lock James Arthur sent to the sin-bin for his dangerous tackle.

McBride took full advantage of a 37th minute penalty from long-range to extend Bury’s lead to 17-3 with the hosts asking all the questions as the half ended.

Gavin Hogg’s side began the second half where they had left off but missed the chance to get another score when Sterling dropped a promising move.

Worthing, carrying the advantage of a heavier pack, began enforcing a forward-dominated approach on the game which saw them push Bury back into their own half.

Findlay Coxon-Smith did manage to break through only to drop the ball just short of the line.

A period of seemingly relentless pressure began inside Bury’s 10-metre line which saw them having to hold out a man down after Darren Gillespie was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on.

The Wolfpack’s rearguard held firm until 13 minutes from time when McLean chased his own grubber kick down the right wing and just managed to touch it down in time with his conversion leaving the visitors with the smell of a comeback in their nostrils at 17-10.

It only seemed to spur Bury into action though as they finally broke out of their own half.

The home crowd were able to breathe a sigh of relief in the 76th minute when Bury were awarded a penalty around 30 metres from goal, with McBride keeping his perfect kicking performance on the day going.

There was almost a third try until a pass was again dropped, but it was a welcome return to winning ways for Bury.

BURY: 15 Lord, 14 Bodkin, 13 Sterling, 12 Meyers, 11 Mellet, 10 McBride, 9 Vunivesilevu, 1 Griffiths, 2 Collins (cpt), 3 Bingham, 4 Bixby, 5 Edison, 6 Sapleton, 7 Micklethwaite, 8 Gillespie. Replacements: Palmer, Painter, Makulusio, O’Reilly, Anderson-Brown.

Man of the Match: Vunivesilevu. Att: 308.