Bury St Edmunds begin new year in style with five-try National League 2 South victory in Guernsey
Bury St Edmunds had an enjoyable trip back from the Channel Isles with a deserved victory - 27-19 - to make it three wins on the bounce for coach Nick Wakley, writes Simon Lord.
A squad showing 10 players either injured or unavailable had flown out the night before the fixture but made light of the difficult logistics to burst out of the blocks.
Bury were straight onto the front foot forcing the Sarnians back only to be held up over the try line after just five minutes. However, The Wolfpack were not to be denied and two minutes later Sam Bixby powered his way over for the first score. Cam Ritchie converted and Bury were off and running.
Wakley's side were swarming all over the hosts, not letting them settle and it was no surprise when they extended their lead, Alex Grey forcing the ball down out wide to put Bury 12–0 up.
Slowly but surely the large Guernsey pack began to assert themselves. A try on 21 minutes for hooker Tom Ceilam dragged his side back into the contest.
Bury were now forced to defend and a series of penalties culminated in a yellow card being shown to Bixby and Guernsey being able to draw level. A penalty was kicked to the corner and once again Ceilam was driven over by his fellow forwards. The try was converted to tie the scores.
Bixby’s return coincided with Guernsey having a player sent to the bin for taking a man out in the air. Bury made their numerical advantage count as Will Scholes added to impressive try tally with a score on the cusp of half-time for a 17-12 lead.
A purple patch at the start of the second half effectively sealed the contest for Bury as they ran in two quick tries.
Still with a man advantage, Bury stretched the hosts and punished them out wide. On 47 minutes Jack Johnson opened his account for Bury with a try that gave Bury the bonus point and three minutes later Fin Sharp raced clear for a fifth Bury try. There was a hint that the final pass to Sharp was forward and prompted howls of disgust from the grandstand but the score was given.
Despite the missed conversions, Bury now had a comfortable cushion and were able to quieten the game down and control the majority of the second half.
The controversy over Bury’s ffith score was perhaps levelled out when what looked like a certain sixth try for Bury was brought back for this time deemed a forward pass.
Guernsey, fighting for their lives at the bottom of Nat 2, continued to ramp up the pressure on the Bury defence but it took until the 72nd minute before they could crack the Green and Yellow defence.
Morisio’s converted try set up an exciting final few minutes but with the host’s still needing two scores to take the lead, Bury kept the hosts at arm’s length to close out the match.
A quick look at Guernsey’s home record in 2018 will underline just how good a performance this was from Bury. To run in five tries and deny the hosts a single bonus point was no mean achievement.
The win pushes Bury now up to 7th in the table and sets them up well for Saturday's trip to London when they take on old foes Barnes.
* Elsewhere, Bury St Edmunds Foxes (Ladies) also made a winning return to action, with a 51-0 whitewash at Southwold Swallows.
* See Friday's Bury Free Press for reaction and previews to the weekend's game at Barnes.