Bury St Edmunds 43
Bury St Edmunds took a large stride towards securing their National League Two South status with a bonus point victory over relegation rivals Barnes at the weekend.
The two clubs have become great rivals over the last three years and games between the two sides have always been incredibly close and exciting.
Saturday’s encounter in London was no different with Bury just having that little bit extra to steer them home.
There were stand out performances from several Bury players, but in Glyn Hughes they had a player who oozed class and stamped his authority on proceedings from minute one to eighty.
The fly half, who recently signed following the sad demise of his former club London Welsh, steered his new side to victory with an outstanding all-round display.
Although faultless from the tee, landing five penalties and four conversions, it was his tactical kicking for territory and then distribution in attack that really caught the eye and ensured Bury recovered from falling 28-19 down to earn the victory.
Gavin Hogg’s charges would have been shell shocked at half time to be trailing 21-19, having dominated the possession and territory charts, but they had been given a lesson in finishing by Barnes.
Three times Bury made a mistake and three times the hosts swept the ball away, attacked with speed and rounded the move off with a try.
Two early penalties by Hughes looked to have calmed the Bury nerves, and they began to get into their stride.
Harry Anderson-Brown’s show and go got Bury deep into the home half, and with good support from Darren Gillespie, the visitors were soon attacking in the Barnes 22 with a penalty advantage.
The players stayed patient, retained possession and waited for the moment they could prise open the defence for Jaid Wiltshire to slide over.
But the Wolfpack were then given a stark reminder as to how dangerous Barnes are on the counter.
A fumble in midfield was sent left in a flash and, before anyone had time to take stock, Fraser Carlisle was scoring in the corner.
Another brace of Hughes penalties restored Bury’s comfortable lead, but then a turnover on halfway, three good passes, one missed tackle and Carlisle was dancing his way over again on the left.
The smash and grab was completed just before half time when another Bury error, this time a line out malfunction, saw Alex Hind race down field and set up Rupert Crossland the chance to barge his way over from close range.
The mood of the match had notably changed and Barnes now looked the side full of confidence, not thinking about the consequences of losing this vital match.
Carlisle was soon celebrating his hat-trick close to the posts as the hosts had the bonus point in the bag and were leading 28-19.
Bury refused to panic and a fine tactical kick was chased well by Wiltshire. He hounded his opposite number into conceding a penalty on the 22.
Bury then went for the try from the penalty and, although they could not breach the line initially, Hughes, aware of an advantage, cleverly dinked the ball through for Tom Rock to touch down.
David Coutts’ influence at the scrum forced his opposite number to lash out in frustration and shown a yellow card.
Bury ought to have made it count with a penalty try but, at the third time of asking, they elected to pick and go from the scrum.
The initial thrust was stopped, but this time Bury did stay patient, winkling out just enough space for Wiltshire to dive over in the left corner.
Barnes had to chase the game now and when a penalty was awarded in front of the posts, perhaps wisely, Tom O’Toole elected to land the simple penalty.
The hosts threw everything they could at Bury, but this time the defence was sound and they then capitalised on a fumble.
Gillespie scooped up the dropped pass, raced away, and set up Matt Edison in for a try, before Wiltshire completed his hat-trick and Hughes’ touchline conversion was the icing on the cake, as Bury claimed a dramatic and vital win in this pulsating match.
Bury (11th) return to action with a trip to 13th-placed Barnstaple a week on Saturday (25th, 3pm).