NATIONAL LEAGUE TWO SOUTH: Bury St Edmunds 22 Red Ruth 35
Bury went down to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season after surrendering their unbeaten home run against a clinical Redruth side at the Greene King IPA Haberden this afternoon.
After only scoring 36 per cent of their points in the second half of games while conceding an alarming 67 per cent of those against after the break in their first opening six games, The Wolfpack’s director of rugby, Gavin Hogg, had called for ‘a complete performance’ ahead of the sixth versus fourth clash.
But it a role reversal that unfolded in front of a Haberden home crowd who had seen three wins from three at Southgate Green this term.
Despite scoring the match’s first try, the hosts lost their defensive discipline as the Cornish visitors crossed their tryline four times to lead 26-5 at the break.
A stirring start to the second half from Hogg’s side had given hope of completing a comeback, bringing the scoreline to within seven points at 29-22 heading into the final 18 minutes. But a couple of late penalties took the game away from them.
With Pierre Peres and Darren Gillespie (both ankle) long-term injury victims, former Osprey Emyr Williams (concussion) also missed out while number eight Matt Edison returned from the side who lost 41-36 at Henley Hawks.
There was a new name in the starting line-up though as the troublesome second row position was boosted with the addition of 33-year-old Ben Turner, who had only joined up with his new team-mates on Thursday after joining on a loan from divisional rivals Taunton Titans.
Scott Lyle started at fly-half after Liam McBride failed a late fitness test on his hamstring.
Bury took the game to their opponents, who had requested an hour earlier kick-off due to travelling back to Cornwall afterwards, in the opening stages.
Chris Lord had the crowd roaring as he broke through on half-way but Edison dropped his pass to kill the attack.
Bury, playing in their fluorescent yellow change strip due to Redruth’s kit having green trim on it, were indebted to Lyle for a good recovery tackle after giving away sloppy possession on half-way.
The visitors, who finished fourth last season, began to enjoy a solid spell in their opponents’ half and went desperately close to a pushover try when putting six phases together following a five-metre lineout. But Bury held them up well and cleared after being awarded a scrum.
Despite losing their captain Dan Collins to the blood bin with a head wound, Bury took the lead in the 23rd minute when winger Michael Mellet was fed the ball from the base of a scrum from Lyle and did well to exploit a gap in the Redruth line. Despite the conversion looking odds-on, Lyle dragged his kick wide of the far post.
It took just three minutes for the Cornish side to reply, using the power of their forwards to pick-and-drive their way over the try line through Shaun Buzza, but Brett Rule was unable to add the extras.
A crossfield kick appeared to have put Bury clear down the left, but the referee blew up for offside.
Two converted tries in the space of three minutes from the half-hour mark saw Redruth fly into a 19-5 lead.
First, flanker Chris Fuca finished an eye-catching move down the right, with the final ball laid up to him almost on the line, receiving applause from the home crowd.
Then, Alexander went on a strong run before laying across to Nielson Webber to ground, with Rule finding his range to provide the conversions.
A dazed Bury were further punished from some lackadaisical defending at the end of the half as the impressive Jack Oulton broke through all too easily before offloading to winger Lewis Vinnicombe to touch down, Rule again converting for 26-5.
It looked a long way back for The Wolfpack, but a rip-roaring start to the second 40 minutes gave the home fans real hope to cling on to.
Only 30 seconds had passed since the restart when Sam Sterling cut a line in from the right to score, with Lyle converting, after the hosts played the ball through the hands of Harold Anderson-Brown and Lyle at the end of a swift move after turning over possession.
Bury kept the pressure in their opponent’s half and were rewarded with their third try of the day, which Lyle again converted, eight minutes later with debutant Turner going over from close in after Mellet had been held up just short after a good run for 26-19.
An ill-judged crossfield kick across their own 22-metre line was soon punished when it led to Rule kicking over a penalty to take Redruth 10 points clear.
Try-scorer Sterling had to be helped off the pitch with a leg injury before Bury opted to kick at goal from a penalty more than 40 metres out, with Lyle’s successful attempt bringing them to within a converted try of tying the scoreboard, with 18 minutes still to play.
But Bury’s good work was undone three minutes later when they conceded a penalty at the other end from which Rule made no mistake.
The Cornish side lost scrum-half Oulton to a red card with a quarter-of-an-hour still on the clock, with the referee indicating backchat.
Despite being a man down, the visitors broke up the other end and put the result beyond doubt with another successful penalty from Rule’s boot, after Bury were penalised at the scrum.
Redruth ended the match down to 13 players after replacement Ashley Lawton was shown a yellow card in the dying moments, but it was to have no bearing on the match as they denied Bury a losing bonus point while claiming five points for their long trip home.
Hogg’s side will need to put in a much-improved defensive display if they are to have any chance of avoiding three straight defeats when they travel to league leaders Chinnor next weekend.
Bury: 1 Palmer, 2 Collins (c), 3 Griffiths, 4 Turner, 5 Enoka, 6 Bixby, 7 Stapleton, 8 Edison, 9 Anderson-Brown, 10 Lyle, 11 Mellett, 12 Rock, 13 Sterling, 14 Bodkin, 15 Lord. Replacements: Alexander, Bingham, Trinder, O’Reilley, Vunivesilevu.
* Log back onto this website on Monday from 1pm to see a post-match video interview with director of rugby Gavin Hogg.