Gavin Hogg believes Bury St Edmunds can break into the top four in SSE National Three London and South East after a strong debut campaign.
Bury ended their first National League season seventh after a run of four consecutive defeats saw their chances of finishing in the top five evaporate, but head coach Hogg believes they can better that.
With champions Dorking promoted, second-placed Old Elthamians expected to join them through the play-offs and unlikely anyone will be relegated to the region from National Two, Bury hope to be able to build on what they have learnt and challenge the best in the division.
“It’s been a massive learning curve, but we have shown we can compete,” said Hogg, who is set to lose Ben Radmall, Logan Dodds and Codey Gray this summer.
“Next year is about improving where we finished in the league.
“We are targeting a top three or four finish — there are a few teams above us we have the ability to beat.”
Hogg has already been working hard with recruitment to replace the outgoing trio of Radmall, Dodds and Gray, but is also excited to track the progress of emerging young talents such as Ed Ballam, Ben Jaycock, Ollie Deeming and Ed Spetch from the Suffolk side’s impressive youth set-up.
n Bury did themselves proud in their final match of the season at Old Elthamians as the hosts missed out on the SSE National Three London and South East title on points difference and instead go into the promotion play-off.
Despite losing Jonno Crisp in the sixth minute with an elbow injury, the Bury players to a man put their bodies on the line to hold a rampant home side.
Jonny Williams ghosted through a gap for the opening score, but the hosts only had those seven points to show for their endeavours.
Bury levelled two minutes into the second half when Matt Edison’s lineout catch was rapidly transferred to Bury’s man-of-the-match Tanimo Samoa, who somehow evaded two would-be tacklers to race in by the posts.
Jesse Rush’s conversion made it 7-7, but Old Elthamians responded well and they became more expansive to open up gaps in the Bury defence and eventually wrapped up a 47-7 victory.