Bury signed off for the festive break with pride rather than points after making National League Two South leaders Cambridge work hard for their derby victory at Volac Park.
Chris Lord gave Bury a dream start after just 90 seconds, but despite having the strong wind at their backs, they could not shake off a resilient Cambridge side and went into the break 10 points apiece after Scott Lyle’s superb 50 metre penalty plus conversion had cancelled out two the title favourties’ two tries.
Bury more than matched their loftier opponents but with the wind now in their favour, Cambridge were always favourites to take the points.
Tries on 46 and then 49 minutes for the home side, and the sin binning of Will Affleck, pointed to a painful last 30 minutes for Bury.
However, in the face of a relentless Cambridge machine, the Bury players dug in.
The game’s pivotal moment came just before the hour mark. Sam Goatley broke through two tackles and sprinted 60 metres for the line. However, Cambridge full-back Stokes made a fantastic last gasp tackle to bundle Goatley into touch. The line-out failed to produce for Bury and the moment was gone.
Rather than setting up a grandstand finish and Bury in bonus-point territory, the score remained at 22 – 10.
The final few minutes belonged to Cambridge and to rub salt in the proverbial wound, former Bury players Stef Libenburg and George Bretag-Norris combined to score with the last play of the game.
The result leaves Gavin Hogg’s side in mid-table, 8th out of 16, at the halfway stage of their first ever season at National League Two level, but just five points above second-from-bottom Chinnor, who they will host on their return to action on January 2 (3pm).