Club-record finish not being mentioned at the Haberden as Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club do not focus on best-ever league position
The carrot of a best-ever club finish is not being dangled in front of Bury St Edmunds’ players this season, Nick Wakley has revealed.
A third straight win, following becoming only the second side to turn over ex-Championship side Esher in southwest London, saw The Wolfpack consolidate seventh spot in National League 2 South. It also left them just six points off fifth.
The club have never finished within the top five in the fourth tier but ahead of hosting Barnes tomorrow (3pm), their head coach has revealed it is a blinkered approach he is now getting his players to focus on.
“After we made the club safe from relegation around January last year we then wanted to challenge the team and said about how Bury had not finished higher than sixth before,” he said, “and that added pressure on the players and I do not want to do that this year. We just want a next-game mentality.
“We know we have let some games slip and against the top three we lost by three points and five and that says to us we are not far away. But I do not want the boys looking too far along the way.”
Wakley admits he has had a welcome selection headache this week, following their impressive 21-14 victory at Esher.
A neck injury to influential hooker Dan Walsh in the build-up forced two late changes with Rob Gardner taking on the number two jersey and youngster Vaughan Bentley coming on to replace him in the game for an eye-catching National League debut.
“It is a nice quandary to have good players who want to step up and perform,” said Wakley.
It was Gardner who started and finished a move to put Bury into a 14-0 lead from a driving maul, after Greg White had opened the scoring under the posts.
Andy Hamilton was led over by the hosts’ maul to make it 14-7 at the interval.
Bury gave away several penalties in the second half, one from which forward Matt Lowes spun off a ruck to score with the conversion putting them into the lead.
But the influence of substitute Ben Leng, who has been nursing a knock, was immense and it was the fly-half who restored the visitors’ lead when powerfully running in a Will Affleck kick infield for 21-14.
Bury were able to see out the final 20-plus minutes without Esher replying in a matchthey might previously have let slip through their hands.
Wakley said: “It is a tough place to go and get a result.
“I was a bit frustrated we let Esher back into the game with some silly mistakes. But where this side is growing is their belief they are going to win games and make the decisions at the right time.
“In the last two or three games though, I have got to credit the finishers and they have really helped us to take it to a different level in those last 10-15 minutes.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s opponents, who sit 12th in the table following a 22-12 home win over Dings Crusaders, he said: “They are always tight games with Barnes.
“They had a great win at the weekend and our boys will need to be at the top of their game.”
More by this authorRussell Claydon