Bury St Edmunds 32
Double tryscorer and captain Chris Snelling declared Bury St Edmunds’ return to form was ‘a big deal’ after they beat Barnes on Saturday.
Snelling touched down either side of the interval to help Bury to a bonus-point triumph that lifted the Suffolk side back above East Grinstead into National Three London and South East’s play-off berth.
The skipper believes his team’s hard work on the training pitch paid off as they comfortably shrugged off back-to-back defeats to East Grinstead and Chichester to return to second in the table.
“It was really important to get our season back on track,” said Snelling.
“We’ve had a dip in form the last couple of weeks, but it felt good to get a bonus-point win, against quite a tough side as well.
“Obviously we wanted wins, especially as we felt the teams we played didn’t win the games — we lost them because we weren’t playing our best rugby.
“To come out and win the game after those results was quite a big deal for us.
“There was more belief and a buzz in the warm-up — we had a bit more energy.
“We’ve worked really hard in training and took that on to the pitch, which pays dividends in the end.
“There’s no point training if you are not going to put it into practice on game day, so the boys have worked really hard to make things right.”
Bury gained plenty of possession from the early stages but failed to break down a stubborn Barnes defence, which allowed the visitors to take the lead themselves courtesy of the boot of James Clarke in the 21st minute.
That seemed to snap the hosts into life and they showed some patient build-up in midfield before moving the ball quickly to the left where James Solomon stormed away from the chasing defence to touch down in the left corner.
Brad Cook missed the difficult conversion and Barnes responded with a driving maul towards the line that Bury’s defence kept at bay before retaking the lead with another Clarke penalty six minutes before the interval.
However, the Suffolk side turned the screw in the final three minutes of the half.
Shaq Meyers and Sam Bixby made the initial breaks before the latter was brought down.
Bury kept their cool, recycled the ball and delivered to the grateful hands of Snelling, who breezed over the line on the right.
Cook added a difficult conversion and a penalty with the last kick of the half to give Bury a nine-point lead they had held seven days earlier before throwing it away in defeat at Chichester.
This time though, there would be no second-half collapse as the home team continued to retain the lion’s share of possession.
A booming long-range penalty from Cook made it 18-6 and Bury sealed the result, as well as a bonus point, with a two-try salvo just past the hour-mark.
Snelling intercepted and raced home from more than 40 metres before an initial break by Sam Bragoli-Jones — who has progressed through the minis and youth sections to make his senior first-team debut on Saturday — created a good position for Jesse Rush to go over under the posts.
Cook converted both and even an unconverted consolation try with the last play of the game could not dampen The Haberden faithful’s spirits as they cheered their team off the field at home for the last time this season.
Director of rugby Gavin Hogg added: “It’s nice to see a few smiles back on faces.
“The team was just lacking in a bit of confidence in the first half, but the score at half-time helped us and we just pushed on in the second half — it was fantastic to come away with a bonus-point win.
“The boys took a lot of confidence from the last five minutes of the first half — they saw if they looked after the ball and generated four or five phases in succession then we would be able to break them down.”
Bury: Cook, Gibson, Adams, Bretag-Norris, Young, Bixby, Black, Goldspink, Meyers, Rush, Solomon, White, Mann, Snelling, Rawcliffe. Replacements: Kivalu, Bragoli-Jones, Sage.
n Before the match, £1,500 was presented to St Nicholas Hospice Care by Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club — a figure raised at the club’s president’s dinner.
A further £150 was raised for the charity at the pre-match Christmas dinner before Saturday’s match against Barnes.