Worthing Raiders 24
Bury St Edmunds 18
Bury St Edmunds’ away-day blues continued in West Sussex as the Wolfpack squandered their early lead.
Within eight minutes of the whistle, the Suffolk visitors were 10 points up and had the game by the scruff of the neck.
After last week’s Somme-like conditions a pitch with grass and only a light drizzle was being enjoyed for this encounter with Worthing Raiders, who began the game five points behind seventh-placed Bury.
A penalty from Fraser Honey and a converted try from Mark Kohler, with a 55-metre sprint from an interception gave Ollie Smith’s side hope of a first win on the road since October.
But the Raiders’ heavier pack used their weight advantage from a good line-out and with a well drilled catch-and-drive five metres out, trundled over for a try from Will Giering, before the boot of Matt Mclean added the extra two.
Bury then came back from an attacking scrum 10 meters out and winger Guillame Duplenne darted over for the try tight to the touchline. The resulting conversion missed left the score at 15-7.
The Raiders got into their stride, pulling the defence left then right on a number of occasions. And although the Wolfpack defence managed to hold their line well, the hosts popped over for a try under the post which was easily converted to bring the half-time deficit to just a point.
Worthing came back into the second half with renewed vigour and from the restart sped up the middle with a number of pick and goes from the rucks, and had certainly decided to make up the points difference. Jonathan Wittall scored and Mclean converted to put them 21–15 ahead.
The Bury lads were not to be punished that easily and after a series of scrums, each won by Bury and a penalty awarded each time, moved the team up the pitch, resulting in Fraser Honey slotted a penalty over to reduce the deficit to three.
With nine minutes to go, it appeared the Wolfpack could get their act together and pull this game together. The backs were working well with intelligent kicks from hand and the pack were becoming more and more dominant.
Two yellow cards in quick succession, to Sam Bixby and then Mark Kohler, meant that the team were down to 13 with eight minutes to go.
With the clock ticking down, Raiders slotted another penalty over for 24–18, and although the Wolfpack were camped in their opponent’s 22, it was only a matter of time before the referee called time to leave Bury with another away defeat.
Head coach Smith reflected: “We had to dig deep for the last 10 minutes and the result could have been very different if we could keep 15 on the pitch.
“Our performance has continued getting better over the last three weeks and we are all looking to forward to Canterbury.”