Bury St Edmunds 29
Against all of the odds, 14-man Bury fought back from 21–0 down to tie with Cinderford on Saturday.
In fact, it could have been even better for Bury, who were denied victory by a late try from their visitors to ensure that the spoils were shared.
On reflection, the draw was probably the fairest result, with four tries each, three successful conversions and two penalties shared evenly over the course of the 80 minutes.
During the opening exchanges, Cinderford exploited weak Bury defending to race into a 14-0 lead inside nine minutes, both courtesy of their scrum-half Jimmy Williams.
Former Bury player Sam Goatley then extended the advantage before the break to leave the visitors 21 points to the good heading into the interval.
However, it was a case of role reversal in the second half, with Bury getting themselves back into the contest early on courtesy of a Sam Sterling try and a penalty from the boot of Glyn Hughes.
Bury’s quest was not helped by the red card handed to former captain Dan Collins for his part in an off-the-ball incident — it was his second dismissal since the turn of the year.
But the hosts had the bit between their teeth and were not to be denied, despite Jimmy Moffatt adding a penalty for Cinderford.
Tries from Hughes and Shaq Meyers got Bury back on a level footing and with five minutes to go they hit the front for the first time in the match.
Some quick recycling of the ball put Matt Edison clean through into space and the athletic second-row had just enough power to force his way over in the corner as the retreating Cinderford players threatened to halt his assault on the try line.
Hughes was unable to make the conversion and that was duly punished by Cinderford’s next venture into Bury territory.
The away side refused to lie down and exploited a high tackle at the re start to win several penalties that resulted in a scrum five metres out.
The Bury pack held firm for a time, but they could not prevent right winger Alex Frame from eventually squeezing over in the corner, much to Cinderford’s delight.
The kicking duties were left to Moffatt to win the encounter, but like his opposite number Hughes only a couple of minutes previously, he was off target.
The referee sounded the final whistle soon after, ensuring that both sides picked up three points apiece from the encounter.
The result extended Bury’s unbeaten run to four matches and leaves them 11th in the table, 17 points clear of the bottom three with three matches left to play this season.
Tomorrow, Gavin Hogg’s team face a tough trip to Old Elthamians (3pm), who sit second in the table and still have a chance to catch league-leading Bishop’s Stortford.