Bury St Edmunds 42
Michael Sage admitted some complacency crept into Bury St Edmunds’ game as they survived a huge scare against second-bottom Tring.
The Suffolk side went level on points with leaders London Irish Wild Geese with a bonus-point triumph over their struggling visitors on Saturday, but they were on the backfoot for half the match.
Full-back Sage touched down as Bury made a blistering start, but conceded they could have made the rest of the match easier for themselves by keeping their foot on the pedal.
“We were a little guilty of taking our foot off the throttle during certain parts of the game,” said Kiwi Sage, who admitted he was feeling under the weather during the game. “Tring did well to hang in and almost caught a bonus point off us there.
“Against a good side we’re going to have tidy those up and make sure we keep our foot on the throttle.”
At a blustery Haberden, the statistics all suggested high-flying Bury would enjoy an easy afternoon against a Tring side with just three wins to their name all season who would sink to the bottom of the league courtesy of this defeat.
The opening minutes were played out as the script read and Bury threatened every time they got the ball in hand.
Bury won a scrum inside the Tring half and from there spun the ball through Jesse Rush and man-of-the-match Tim Mann to Sage, who ran the ball in before converting the try.
The hosts mixed patience with quick passing as they searched for their second try and Mann and Greg White showed nimble handiwork to create an opening for Tristan Rawcliffe to score.
Stretching Tring from one side of the pitch to another, Bury continued to create gaping holes in the defence and — after turning over a ruck deep into the visitors’ half — the ball was sent left for White to barrel his way over with a defender hanging off him.
However, from having total control at 19-0 22 minutes in, Bury somehow found themselves in the midst of a hard-fought encounter.
Tring suddenly gained a huge amount of ground and, after toying with the Bury defence, Tom Newton decided the best option was to dart between three would-be tacklers and over the line for a converted try.
Bury lost Ben Cooper to injury, but they appeared to have stopped the rot when Sage sent a simple penalty straight between the posts.
However, Tring were just warming up and when the hosts inexplicably lost possession on the halfway line the away team kicked their way through before Richard Roberts dived on top of the ball as it rolled over the line.
Newton’s conversion brought Tring within eight points as the half-time whistle sounded and his side began the second half with the bit firmly between their teeth.
Bury could not get out of their own 22-metre area and, as their defending became increasingly desperate, they lost stand-in skipper George Bretag-Norris to the sinbin.
Gavin Hogg’s charges somehow survived without conceding any more than three points to the boot of Nathan Lambden and — having been on the backfoot for more than 40 minutes of the match — relief flooded around The Haberden when they finally added the bonus-point-clinching fourth try.
Mann made several metres down the left and, once he had finally been hauled to the ground, the ball was sent right for James Solomon to touch down and create a roar that rippled around the ground.
Sam Bixby went over the line, only to have the try disallowed for Mann’s forward pass, but Sage kicked a penalty and Shaq Meyers wriggled free for another try that Sage converted.
Tring powered over for a consolation score three minutes from time, but one more penalty from Sage — taking his day’s tally to 22 points — secured Bury’s triumph and left them level at the summit with the Wild Geese, who lost 14-9 at Hertford.
n Bury St Edmunds Under-13s went down to a 20-10 defeat at Ipswich YM.
After falling two scores behind, Bury hit back when a powerful run by Valentin Morara resulted in a try for Paddy Mountford.
Jordan Dunkerley scored Bury’s second try early in the second half, but Ipswich scored twice again despite a man-of-the-match display from Jaden Barry.