Bury return to home comforts
Bury St Edmunds 39
London Irish Wild Geese 15
Gavin Hogg has set his Bury St Edmunds RUFC side the target of turning the Haberden into a fortress this season, a target which they are so far fulfilling.
The Wolfpack ran in four tries during a dominant first-half display as they made it three wins from three home games this season.
A fifth try early in the second half ended the match as a contest, although Bury’s opponents, London Irish Wild Geese, never threw in the towel and managed to score two tries of their own before the full-time whistle.
Bury still had plenty of breathing space though and, after sealing their first bonus-point win of the campaign, the club’s director of rugby Hogg shared his delight at a result which propelled the Wolfpack up to sixth place in the National League Two South table.
“I guess we’ve set ourselves the challenge at the start of the season, of making our home patch a bit of a fortress — making it very difficult for sides to come up here and beat us,” he said.
“I think from the three home games the most pleasing thing has been how we’ve started each of the games.
“We’ve had very good first halves under our belt and it was nice to go into half-time here knowing we’d picked up the bonus point.
“The game was probably a bit dead as a contest at half-time, but I think if I’m being really critical I would have liked to have kicked on a bit more in the second half.
“We could have perhaps racked up a few more points but we know bonus-point wins aren’t easy to come by in this league, so it’s a satisfying day at the office all round.”
Bury could have been excused for returning to the Haberden on Saturday still licking their wounds from the previous weekend.
Hogg’s charges came within a whisker of beating current league leaders Taunton Titans on their own patch last time out, with an injury time try seeing them surrender a 26-25 lead to lose 30-26.
From the early exchanges on Saturday it looked like London Irish were not in a forgiving mood, as a third-minute penalty saw Ben Kitching kick between the posts to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Yet, as the two teams headed into the interval it was Bury who held a commanding 32-3 lead, the Wolfpack running riot in a near 30-minute spell which saw them rack up four tries and two penalties to effectively be out of sight with half the game still left to play.
London Irish’s early advantage lasted all of five minutes as the Bury pack drove Sam Bixby over the line for the first try of the afternoon, with Scott Lyle’s conversion going in off the post to put the home side 7-3 in front.
Bury would have opened the scoring moments earlier had Sam Sterling not fumbled when he dived on the ball, but the early mistake failed to make a dent in the Wolfpack’s determination.
After Bixby’s try on eight minutes, Lyle was successful with two penalties, five minutes apart, to extend Bury’s lead to 13-3.
Bixby was then the beneficiary of two more close quarter catch and drives, as his pack helped him complete a first-half hat-trick with just 26 minutes on the clock.
Wild Geese’s woes continued when tight-head prop Michael Fraher was shown a yellow card in between the second and third Bury tries.
With five minutes to go before half-time the hosts secured the bonus point. A driving run from Harold Brown-Anderson saw Tom Rock slide over for Bury’s fourth try of the afternoon.
And when Chris Lord slipped the ball to Sean Stapleton to score shortly after the restart, the Wolfpack knew they were home and dry.
Now left to play for pride, London Irish scored two tries to add some respectability to the scoreline.
Andrew Evans crossed the line on 54 minutes for their first try, before Seb Rodwell scored their second just after the hour mark as Bury finished with a 39-15 lead.
“Liam McBride at 10 really got us into the right areas of the pitch with a really controlled kicking game,” Hogg reflected.
“The forwards have been doing a lot of hard work over the course of pre-season and early season particularly in our catch and drive off the line.
“We’ve seen little glimpses of it in the first three or four fixtures, but we really haven’t been in the right area of the pitch to execute them and get a reward for it, so it’s fantastic for those boys.
“We got a few kicks to the corner in terms of the penalties and three well constructed tries.
“We’re probably renowned for being a little bit more of an expansive side so it’s nice for the forwards to get something out of the game.”
With three wins from three home games, the next target for Bury is a first away win.
Bury St Edmunds: Bingham, Collins, Griffiths, Koroiyadi, Hamber, Bixby, Stapleton, Edison, Brown-Anderson, McBride, Lord, Rock, Sterling, Snelling, Lyle. Replacements: Enoka, Trinder, Painter, Affleck, Addison.
London Irish Wild Geese: O’Sullivan, Edwards-Vaughan, Fraher, Bifield, Evans, Cooke, Bush, Moore, Grant-Adamson, Cunningham, Owen, Bradshaw, Rodwell, Richards, Kitching. Replacements: Livett, Bunn, Drye, Barker, Rowland.