Bury St Edmunds 29
Cornish All Blacks 26
Captain Matt Edison was left content despite seeing Bury St Edmunds only just narrowly overcome basement-boys Cornish All Blacks.
They may have made the long trip to Suffolk without a win this season, but Cornish All Blacks left with their heads held high after pushing Bury all the way in an absorbing encounter in the wintery conditions at The Haberden on Saturday.
But despite their efforts it was the hosts who managed to come out on top and seal a second successive victory in National League Two South, much to the home crowd and Edison’s relief.
“The goal for was back-to-back wins following on from last week and, although it wasn’t in the smartest, nicest fashion, we managed to get the five points from today, which is what we were aiming for,” he said, on the victory that leaves Bury ninth in the league ahead of a trip to 14th-placed Redingensians tomorrow (2pm).
“The conditions were actually better than we trained for, we had expected worse.
“I think what really paid dividends though was although we conceded 26 points we had done a lot of work over the last few weeks on our defence and that showed for 15-20 minutes in the second half when we were on our own line.
“I think as a team we have come a long way, and as players, and I personally think I speak for the team when I say I never had any doubt that we would win the game.
“It was just the fashion we were going to win it in.
“We always believed and we managed to do what we wanted to do in the end.”
“At half-time the message was that we just needed to believe in our patterns and stick to them and not try and force anything.
“In the first half we didn’t manage to keep the ball for a number of phases but in the second half when we had the ball we kept it and looked after it and we trusted in our game plan and that came through in the end.”
The league’s bottom side were clearly buoyed by their first point of the season, which came after in a 17-17 draw at home to Southend Saxons the previous week, quickly pulling back the hosts’ early pick-and-drive try through man mountain Ben Cooper with captain Richard Friend’s score in the 11th minute.
Bury, playing into a strong wind after the heavy rain had ceased, got their noses back in front after Luke Palmer broke through the defence for his first try for the Wolfpack, while young debutant Scott Lyle kicked his first conversion for his new side.
Back came the Launceston-based outfit though, with second row Ben Hilton grounding from a rolling maul before Fraser Honey, who had trained with Bury throughout the summer, converted via a drop kick after the wind had knocked the ball off the tee.
The vistitors then gained the lead for the first time, with hooker Jamie Salter touching down to take advantage from a penalty which saw Ben Davey join Sam Bixby in the sin bin as the hosts were reduced to 13 men, Honey adding the conversion for 19-12.
A sustained rally at the end of the half saw Bury close the gap to two points as 10 phases of play in the All Blacks’ 22 were halted just short of the line with the referee signalling for Honey, some way clear of play, to be the next in the sin bin.
From the penalty the ball was shipped wide left and it looked like Matt Hema was going to run clear, but he slipped. Bury still managed to hold on to possession through and worked the ball to the left-hand corner where flanker Bixby got the ball down for an unconverted try.
The home crowd were soon jumping for joy in the second half as centre Sam Goatley got their side back in front and secured a fourth try bonus point within four minutes of the restart, Lyle adding the conversion for 24-19.
John Hall’s pushover try stretched the lead to 10 points, but it soon became clear it was not to be a procession to the final whistle as the visitors set up a tenses finish by eventually securing a converted try through Friend after a dominant 20 minute spell.
With just three points in the game there were hearts in mouths in the Haberden crowd when Bury conceded possession with another penalty, with the incident on half-way, halting scrum-half Adam Marshall running clear, provoking booing towards the whistle-happy referee, who had issued no less than five yellow cards (three of which were to Bury).
But the hosts’ defence, which had looked strong at times, despite the amount of tries conceded, held firm to turn over the ball and play out the remaining minute to record back-to-back league victories following last week’s success at Barnes.
Bury: 1 Palmer, 2 Collins, 3 Cooper, 4 Hall, 5 Walker (cpt), 6 Gleeson, 7 Bixby, 8 Edison, 9 Marshall, 10 Affleck, 11 Hema, 12 Meyers, 13 Goatley, 14 Snelling, 15 Lyle. Replacements: Stapleton, Bingham, Reid, Davey, Lord.