Bury rugby: Uphill task fails to halt championship charge

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Brentwood 11

Bury St Edmunds 17

Bury St Edmunds faced a thorough examination of their credentials against a physical Brentwood outfit, but won their 31st consecutive competitive match.

Underfoot conditions were sticky and Bury faced the challenge of playing up the famous slope in the first half.

Early pressure from the home side saw the majority of the play in Bury territory and resulted in two kickable penalties being dispatched by the home team full-back to give Brentwood an early 6-0 lead.

Bury were being met by strong ball-carrying around the side of the breakdown and any possession they did get in early exchanges often resulted in turnovers through penalty decisions from the referee.

This allowed the home side to kick deep into Bury’s territory and, from one such lineout, the home side set up a well-organised driving maul, allowing their back row forward to secure the five points.

Once 11-0 down, Bury started to find more structure, and strong runs from Ben Radmell, Sam Bixby and Matt Edison allowed the league leaders to find territory, resulting in two penalties being awarded in quick succession. However, Will Martin was off target with both, the second rebounding off the upright.

Pressure soon told and, after Bixby went close in the corner, Bury regained possession and breached the home side’s defensive line.

Captain Edison forced his way through several attempted tackles to dot down to the left of the uprights.

Martin added the extras and Bury went into the break 11-7 down, but knowing they had the favourable slope for the second half.

Bury came out of the blocks in the second period and exerted immediate pressure on the home side.

A loose kick from Brentwood was gathered by Edison, who linked with Martin and Ryan Wiggins, who committed the last defender before offloading to the hard-working Radmell to dive over in the corner.

Martin added the extras and the travelling Bury support breathed a sigh of relief.

For the remainder of the half, Bury enjoyed the majority of the territory but, with a three-point margin, the home side were always in touching distance and stubborn defence from Bury on a few occasions held out the home forwards.

As the clock wound down, Bury had opportunities to extend their lead, but Cooke failed to gather with the line beckoning and a late penalty allowed Martin to extend the gap to six points.

Bury have a weekend off before taking on second-placed Eton Manor at The Haberden on March 2.

n In London Two North East, Stowmarket — who lost 66-0 at leaders North Walsham on Saturday — travel to relegation rivals Saffron Walden tomorrow (2.30pm).