Hogg embraces favourites tag as Bury open up a 10-point gap

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Eton Manor 8

Bury St Edmunds 22

Bury coach Gavin Hogg has been left to concede his side are now favourites for promotion after another bonus point victory away at Eton Manor.

The Haberden outfit travelled to second-placed Manor on the back of eight straight bonus-point successes and stretched that one further with a hard-fought win in tricky conditions to open up a 10-point lead at the top of the league over now second-placed Letchworth Garden City.

Hogg’s charges host 11th-placed Basildon tomorrow (2.15pm) who claimed a 12-12 with Diss at the weekend, and after watching his side come through their toughest test of the campaign, he was left to accept the tag of promotion favourites.

“I was delighted with the victory, they are the strongest team we’ve faced and to get a bonus point is just the icing on the cake,” he said.

“It has definitely put us in the position of promotion favourites and keeps us on track to achieve our short-term goals.

“The aim is to now maintain that advantage until Christmas, then try and achieve promotion as soon as possible.

“Basildon might be viewed as an easier game, but they are an improving side and we know we are in for a tough test.

“However, confidence is high and we are setting a high standard and the players are certainly enjoying it at the moment.”

After a slow start to the encounter, Bury opened the scoring as Matt Edison collected a pass from Kenny Eggars to crash over, but Will Martin was unable to add the conversion.

The hosts responded with a period of pressure, but were limited to a single successful penalty, reducing the deficit before the break.

In the second half, the introduction of centre Matt Page, breached the dogged Manor defence, as his beautifully-timed offload to Robert Blatch saw the man of the match crash over to open a 10-3 lead.

Eton Manor defended heroically in front of their vocal home crowd, but Sam Bixby managed to extend the lead further, bursting through to score from 20 metres, Krammer narrowly missing the resulting conversion.

Bury went in search of the bonus point try, and with the home defence finally wilting, Blatch was on hand to finish a free-flowing move, Martin successful with the kick to give Bury a 22-3 lead.

However, it was the hosts who had the last say on proceedings, finally driving over for a well-deserved try in the corner moments before the final whistle.

n Meanwhile, Stowmarket’s unbeaten run in London Two North East has been brought to an end after a slender 20-15 defeat away at Stevenage.

Nigel Brown’s side will be hoping to respond when they entertain North Walsham at Chilton Fields tomorrow (2.30pm).

Elsewhere, Thurston remained rooted to the bottom of Eastern Counties League Division One after suffering a third consecutive defeat, going down emphatically 72-3 at home to Wymondham.

However, their chances of turning round their form could be set to improve with a trip to Mersea Island tomorrow (2.30pm) who are currently just one place above them.