Bury miss out on best ever season with narrow loss
For the third week running, Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club surrendered a winning position to slip to a frustrating defeat in their final game of the 2017/18 National League Two South campaign, writes Simon Lord.
The side showed glimpses of quality and dogged determination but also a lack of discipline and game management as they fell to a 36-28 away defeat at Tonbridge Juddians.
The result saw them finish the season in eighth, having targeted a best-ever sixth place or higher at the start of the season.
And both sides showed early intent, with a score in the bag within the first 10 minutes as a try fest beckoned.
Bury opened the scoring after just two minutes with a driving maul sending Sean Stapleton over for the score, with Fraser Honey converting.
But Tonbridge reduced the deficit minutes later with their number eight pouncing on a loose ball to dive over, with the conversion going wide.
From the promising start, the half became a cagey affair with both sides testing each other out.
Mark Kohler then saved Bury with a last ditch tackle as his side became increasingly under the cosh, but Tonbridge deservedly took the lead just before the half hour mark with a second unconverted try.
Bury’s response was swift, however, as they regained the lead within two minutes for their second try — courtesy of flanker Craig Wilson, and again converted by Honey.
The Wolfpack blew a golden opportunity to convert a penalty opportunity, as they took a quick tap but were then penalised themselves for going off their feet at the breakdown to leave the score at 10-14 at the break.
An off-the-ball scuffle between Sean Stapleton and Tonbridge full back Sam Atiola at the start of the second half resulted in a sin binning for the former and a red card for the latter to preface a tense 40 minutes.
The first score came from Bury’s Dwayne Corcoran, as he intercepted an optimistic pass to race in from 40 metres, with Honey again converting.
But the feisty home side refused to accept their fate and Bury were suddenly under pressure as they conceded a converted try with the scores at 17-21.
Bury seemed to start making use of their extra man though, with Kohler diving over for another five points, again converted by Honey before Bury looked sure to score again.
But Tonbridge intercepted to run the length of the pitch, scoring in the corner to bring the score to 22-28.
Bury were unable to hold on for the final 10 minutes as Tonbridge scored two converted tries to take the game and a best ever league finish away from the Wolfpack.