A last-gasp penalty denied Bury St Edmunds a fourth straight victory as Tonbridge Juddians snatched a share of the spoils with a 23-23 draw at The Haberden in Saturday’s SSE National Three London and South East fixture.
The hosts started brightly with Charlie Pask’s boot putting them 6-0 ahead.
Tonbridge missed the chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty of their own and were duly punished when a flowing move involving Matt Edison, Oscar Lechnar, Ben Radmall and Pask, resulted in the latter powering his way over, as well as kicking the following extras to take the score to 13-0.
That appeared to galvanise the visitors who responded superbly with a penalty try as Bury failed to deal with the restart.
To make matters worse, Bury’s Codey Mason was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on.
Despite that, it was Bury who added to their total when good work by Lechnar and Edison earned Bury another penalty which Pask again landed.
However, it was Tonbridge who ended the half in the ascendency and hit back with another try as Ian Davey bundled his way over to take the score to 16-12 at the break.
With Bury reinstated to full strength, they started the second half as they did the first, in control with early pressure resulting in another try.
Aaron Waters secured a turnover at the ruck allowing Sam Bixby to be released to burst clear of the pack and power his way through to score near the posts.
With Pask receiving treatment, Jesse Rush stepped up to add the conversion and extend the home side’s advantage to 23-12.
However, with the elements very much in their favour, the remainder of the half belonged to the visitors, who kicked off their comeback with Davey capitalising on a lapse in concentration to slip through a gap in the Bury ranks and score in the corner.
Facing the wind was proving an issue as Pask missed a penalty chance, which was made worse as at the other end Tonbridge successfully kicked a penalty of their own to reduce the deficit to just three points.
Another difficult penalty opportunity came and went for Pask while a storming run from Bixby was halted with a high tackle, resulting in a yellow card for Neil Underhill.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, and Bury looking likely to hold on, the visitors dealt a telling blow with 25 seconds remaining, successfully adding a last-gasp penalty to snatch a share of the spoils.