DIVISION TWO SOUTH
Bury St Edmunds 21
Bury survived a late Barnes fightback - seven minutes of injury time and a last play kick at goal - to deservedly take the spoils
In appalling conditions both teams struggled early on to keep control of the ball. The Bury Front row of Brad Cook, Dan Collins and in particular Ben Cooper dominated the set piece to lay the foundations for victory.
Barnes did, however, take the lead on 17 minutes. Bury were guilty of straying offside at a ruck, O’Toole landing the straight forward kick.
For the remainder of the half it was all Bury. After an initial period of trying to play expansive Rugby, Bury adapted their style to suit the conditions to great effect. Gleeson, Stapleton and Hall led the way in launching close quarter drives, making hard yards and forcing Barnes into errors.
Eddison drove for the line following several attacking scrums and was stopped just short, but livewire scrum half Adam Marshall was hand to dive over a pile of players and dot down by the sticks. Cook added the extras and it was 7 -3 to Bury on the half hour mark.
Barnes were having to defend for their lives as Bury dominated up front. Inevitably something had to give and flanker Chris Smyth was shown a yellow card for killing the ball at a ruck.
The Bury forwards showed no mercy and marched the Barnes pack towards the try line, referee Clarkson having no option but to award a penalty try. Again Cook made no mistake and Bury led 14 - 3 at the break.
Bury had shown they were playing the conditions better and within five minutes looked to have made the game safe. The Bury scrum once again set up the field position for the third try. Again a series of sensible close quarter drives finally created the space for skipper Josh Walker to burst through and power over. Cook converted superbly from wide out in the mud.
Bury were 21-3 up and totally dominant.
However, a charged down kick in their own 22 led to Stapleton being shown the yellow card for slowing the ball down and O’Toole made no mistake.
The Londoners sensed an opening and with Bury becoming increasingly desperate in their defence, a series of penalties were conceded allowing Barnes a line out 10 metres from the try line. The catch and drive worked well and a clean shirted Sam Bixby was all too easily seen pulling the maul down, resulting in a penalty try to Barnes and Bixby sent to the bin.
Barnes pushed hard and Morgan’s superb long cut out pass found Smyth on his own, where he gleefully slid over to make it 21-18.
Stapleton looked to atone for his errors with two storming drives and with Ben Cooper now back on the pitch, the Bury scrum once again created havoc for the home side.
Barnes tried one final penalty attempt from 40-yards out but O’Toole skewed his kick wide allowing Bury to celebrate a victory.