SSE NATIONAL THREE
Bury St Edmunds 15
Bury St Edmunds endured a second half to forget at Hertford on Saturday, but retain slim hopes of finishing in the top five of SSE National Three London and South East.
Gavin Hogg’s charges must earn a four-try bonus-point victory at title-chasing Old Elthamians tomorrow (3pm) and hope Guernsey lose at home to Tonbridge Juddian by more than seven points.
After matching their hosts during the first period on Saturday, 22 unanswered points after the interval condemned them to defeat.
Despite the shock of Will Martin missing a penalty from straight in front of the posts, Bury soon got on the scoreboard.
On 15 minutes, Casey Stone raced into the line on a pre-planned backs move and he had too much space and pace to be stopped going under the posts for a converted try.
Once influential flank forward Ben Radmall hobbled away from a collision, the Bury scrum began to fall into disrepair.
The Hertford pack put the squeeze on and rumbled up to the line and prop forward Calum McCnnachie gratefully dived over before the conversion levelled the scores.
It did not take Bury long to restore their lead.
Good pressure from a Hertford scrum saw Tanimo Samoa charge down his opposite number’s attempted clearance kick and he then won the race to the ball and scored out wide.
A penalty apiece maintained the five-point gap between the sides, but Hertford grabbed the initiative on the stroke of half-time with a try by fly-half Macpherson that he converted himself.
Within moments of the start of the second half, Hertford were on the scoreboard from a five-metre scrum.
After Tim Young was unlucky to be penalised, Macpherson’s penalty in front of the posts came back off the woodwork and, while Bury players stood and watched, Hertford full-back Shaun Brown reacted first and skipped his way through a statuesque defence.
Many of the Bury players were looking as though the effects of a tough first season in the National League had taken their toll and they seemed to be running on empty.
Tim Mann’s brave attempt to prevent another Hertford score saw him led from the field with concussion, while Chris Oxborough’s step-up from the third team to first-team hooker ended after 65 minutes once he had given his all.
The final play of the match summed up Bury’s sorry second half — a hard-earned penalty was won and the kick to the corner produced a lineout 10 metres out.
The line out was won well and Bury tried to drive for the line, but they lost the ball in contact and scrum-half Mike Sargent gleefully kicked the ball into the stands to end the game.
A patched-up and battered side looked drained at the final whistle.
The club can take great heart, however, in the performances of a youthful second team putting 50 points on their Hertford counterparts and the third team scoring 60 points in securing the Suffolk Merit Division One title.