Bury St Edmunds 43
Bury St Edmunds head coach Gaving Hogg has hailed the toppling of league-leaders and rivals Cambridge as the best ever result in his time at the club.
In their final home game of the current National League Two South campaign, Bury gave the thousand-plus crowd something special to remember as the hosts recovered from a 28-15 half-time deficit to come out on top of a thrilling derby-day encounter against the champions-elect.
And ahead of travelling to third-placed Bishops Stortford tomorrow (3pm) Hogg hailed his squad’s efforts as he aims to conclude the season in style with another victory.
“As a collective we have achieved a lot over the past five years but for me that is the biggest individual performance and result we’ve had in my time,” he said.
“No one really gave us any hope of getting anything out of the game. However, there is a lot of fighting spirit in our group and I think they were determined to put on a big performance in front of our fans.
“I’m so proud of them and that is a victory they can look back on in years to come and be proud of.
“We have one final game left at Bishops Stortford and we want to finish on a high.”
The home side weathered an early onslaught before breaking the deadlock against the run of play after eight minutes as Pierre Peres broke through the centre before brilliantly releasing the on-rushing Will Affleck to score. Chris Lord stepped up and converted to gift the hosts a 7-0 lead.
However, the lead did not last long as the visitors hit back with two quick-fire tries of their own from Oli Petrides and Albert Portsmouth, both converted by Gerhard Boshoff to see Cambridge 14-7 ahead.
Bury responded superbly and cut the deficit to just two points after 24 minutes as Tim Mann brushed off three tackles on his way to the try line in a brilliant individual effort. Lord could not add the extras leaving the score at 12-14.
However, any momentum Bury may have gained from the try was quickly halted as Mark Kidson was shown a yellow card for an infringement.
Cambridge quickly took advantage with James Ayrton bundling over on the right-hand side following a period of prolonged pressure on the try line. Borshoff stepping up once again to add the extras.
The home side responded with a simple penalty from Lord but the visitors would take a 13-point advantage into the interval adding a contentious late try.
Steve Hipwell bundled his way over the line, losing possession in the process with Louis Rowlings charging through to touch down the loose ball. And with Bury players still protesting a knock-on, Boshoff kicked the resulting conversion to leave the score at 15-28 at the break.
Just as they did in the first-half, Bury started the second in blistering fashion as Ben Enoka emerged from a ruck to race clear of the Cambridge back line and score. Lord again kept his composure to send the ball between the posts and reduce the deficit to just six points at 22-28.
However, the home side’s ill-discipline struck again after 46 minutes with Dan Collins being shown a yellow card.
And just as they did previously, Cambridge quickly seized on the numerical advantage with James Stokes bursting clear of the Bury line to race away unopposed. Boshoff again added the extras taking the score to 22-35 with half an hour remaining.
But with their full contingent of players restored Bury fought back and pushed Cambridge back with another period of prolonged pressure.
And they were duly rewarded as Peres pounced on the ball from the base of the scrum to bundle his way over the line. Lord added the simple conversion to leave the home side just six points adrift at 29-35 with a little over 15 minutes remaining.
And with 10 minutes remaining their chances of victory were enhanced as Stokes was sent to the sin-bin for an infringement.
With the numerical advantage, Bury got themselves ahead for the first time since the opening stages as Peres again found the little space there was in the right-hand corner to force his way over. Substitute Scott Lyle, who had taken over kicking responsibility, slotted the ball between the posts to give the home side a 36-35 lead with eight minutes remaining.
The frustration among the Cambridge players was clear and their task was made harder with seven minutes remaining as they were reduced to 13 men with another yellow card.
And with a two-man advantage Bury were not going to let the opportunity pass as they took full advantage scoring another try with a wonderfully delicate kick-and-rush from left to right with Lord the beneficiary, touching the ball down over the line to wild celebrations from the home crowd.
Lyle again added the extras from a difficult angle to gift the hosts a 43-35 advantage with just four minutes remaining.
The final minutes saw Bury having to withstand another offensive onslaught from the league-leaders with some stout defensive work preventing another try opportunity.
There was just time for Stokes to kick one final consolation penalty as Bury held on for a memorable 43-38 victory over their rivals with the vocal crowd sounding their appreciation as the players left the Haberden field for the final time this season.