Bury show grit in narrow win
Bury St Edmunds 28
Old Redcliffians 20
If this performance was supposed to be about paying back the loyal home support for the opening day horror show, they could be forgiven for feeling a bit short-changed.
Against another promoted side, and one who had been heavily beaten in their previous two National League Two games, following a rapid rise up the leagues, a lacklustre Bury failed to really click into gear until deep into the second half.
But they did enough in the end to register a first home win for new head coach Ollie Smith and with it back-to-back victories to act as a platform to build on.
One of 17 new signings, Mark Kohler, was one of those who used his skilful running to endear himself to the home support, scoring one try and setting up another.
And the former Canada Under-20 winger or centre, who signed in the summer having played two seasons at National League One Rosslyn Park, believes their comeback said a lot about the mental strength within the camp.
“Being 20 points to nine down was a tough ask for any team but showed good resilience, and that was key. To come back from that deficit without giving up and win 28-20 is perfect for us,” said the former university room-mate of number eight Matt Edison, who along with Chris Snelling convinced the ex-Bedford Blues, Coventry and Plymouth player to make the move to Suffolk.
“The scrum was a bit shaky in the first half and they got a couple of penalties ahead against us, but the boys had a word at half-time and sorted ourselves out.
“We scored three tries when we got the set piece right, which shows when the boys work hard in the middle the backs can do the rest.”
A turgid first half, with the ball largely held up in midfield, saw the lacklustre hosts made to pay in the last play, with Kieran Ward’s try from a five metre lineout, following an unnecessary penalty, seeing Bury deservedly trail 13-6 at the break.
With Australian Brendon Mitchell nursing an ankle injury, captain for the day, Liam McBride, rather surprisingly choose to slot over his third penalty from three attempts after the re-start, instead of going for all seven points via the lineout.
Bury were soon more than an arms length behind on the scoreboard when Sam Hewick was carried over by good forward play for 20-9 to the visitors from Bristol, once the extras were added by the boot of Ashley Groves.
But with 23 minutes to play, Bury proved they were the ones with more gas in the tank and succesfully staged a comeback.
It began with Kohler showing why he was brought to the Haberden, bursting through a gap and laying up for Sean Stapleton to ground, with McBride converting.
Just four points behind now, Bury edged ahead in the 63rd minute when Snelling — who was later knocked out cold after taking a ball in the air — dived over after great footwork from full-back Chris Lord, McBride unable to land the kick from out wide.
The Wolfpack got more than a try clear on the scoreline with 10 minutes to play after Kohler ran a great line in for McBride to find him, with the captain making no mistake with his kick in front of the posts.
Old Redcliffians were unable to respond for at least a bonus point, having given too much too early in the contest, and Bury ensured they held firm to register back-to-back victories, following the 20-16 success at Broadstreet the previous weekend.
Kohler, who started his senior career at Luton, said: “It is nice to get on the scoresheet and get your hands on the ball. That is all your want to do with rugby; play with your best mates and get your hands on the ball and enjoy a win on a Saturday.
“It is a long season, but it is always nice to have two wins on the bounce.
“We have got a long trip to Barnstaple next. I’m from the south-west, so I know what those guys are like down there.
“They are big they are strong and they are not going to take anything for granted.
“But we have to go there and show no fear, and hopefully get a third win on the bounce.”
Kholer, whose partner living in the area was a big pull to make the move to Bury, also revealed the players’ efforts to overturn the deficit and claim the victory led to them being given a day off.
“We have worked had for a couple of weeks in training: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the coach has rewarded us with a Monday off this week.
“It is a good fun club with a good community spirit and I have really enjoyed it so far. I am really happy.”
Bury: 15 Lord, 14 Snelling, 13 Kohler, 12 Rouse, 11 Corcoran, 10 McBride (c), 9 Navas, 1 Smith, 2 Bixby, 3 Brown, 4 Scholes, 5 Stanley, 6 Uru, 7 Stapleton, 8 Browne. Replacements: Coutts, Edison, Meyers, Harrison, Honey.
Bury Coach’s Man of the Match: Sam Bixby.