SSE NATIONAL LEAGUE THREE LONDON AND SOUTH EAST: Bury St Edmunds 13 East Grinstead 8: Gavin Hogg was delighted his side could give their own fitting tribute to those lost in the 1974 air tragedy on an emotional day for the club.
With friends and families of the 18 club players and officials lost in the disaster 40-years ago present for a specially designated memorial day, Bury gave a memorable performance with a try from Logan Dodds and eight kicked points from the returning Will Martin enough to seal victory over their high-flying opponents.
And with the magnitude of the occasion well within his squad’s thoughts prior to kick off, head coach Hogg, whose side do not play tomorrow, was relieved to honour the memory of those lost in a suitable fashion.
“We spoke a lot this week about what was happening off the field and what we had to take care of,” he said.
“It was brilliant to get a win and I think we played some of our best rugby of the season.
“No matter how much we tried to keep the focus on purely rugby we knew there was that underlining feeling of emotions running high.
“However we wanted the players to feed off of that and I think the lads were very focused on making their own tribute to the occasion and memory of those that were lost.
“We had the match in the back of our minds as one we really wanted to focus on because it would be a good marker to how far we’ve come.
“At this stage of the season you have one eye on next season and you like to judge yourself on where you want to finish.
“I think we’ve proven that we can compete at this level. If we can finish in the top five it will be a great achievement and then next season that will be a marker for us to improve on.”
Following an impeccable minutes silence, the home side gave the large crowd inside the Haberden something to cheer with a try after 14 minutes.
A swift passage of play from right to left saw Martin break through two tackles to race clear of the pack before off loading to the onrushing Dodds to power his way over in the far left corner.
Martin, having missed a penalty attempt minutes beforehand was not to be denied with the conversion, successfully adding the extras to give Bury a 7-0 lead.
A lull in action then proceeded as the evenly-matched sides both enjoyed a period of possession without being able break down either defensive line.
And so it stayed until the interval as the hosts went into the break with a slender 7-0 advantage.
Capitalising on penalties appeared the most likely source of points and so it proved immediately after the restart as Martin extended the home side’s advantage with a superbly taken 45 metre kick to take the score to 10-0.
In contrast Scott Meakin proved less successful with his kicking and missed a golden opportunity to close the gap with a penalty of his own shortly after.
However the travelling Grinstead fans would not have to wait long for their side to post a score as a turnover in a Bury scrum 25 metres from the line gifted Lee Nelmes the opportunity to gain possession and force his way over the line.
Again Meakin’s accurate kicking deserted him as he fell short with the conversion attempt to leave the deficit at five points.
That was soon to be extended to eight points as Martin again capitalised on a soft penalty to simply kick over from in front of the posts to give Bury a 13-5 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
That appeared to rejuvenate the visitors who piled on the pressure for the remainder of the match with Matt Eddison and Ben Radmall working tirelessly in the middle to thwart the waves of attack.
However, with just three minutes remaining Meaking was gifted a simple kick infront of the posts to cut the deficit back to five points.
The onslaught continued for the final minutes but dogged and sometimes desperate defending, enabled Bury to hold out and claim an impressive victory which leaves them fifth in the table with four games remaining.