Late drama sees Bury St Edmunds win first National League 2 South home game under coach Nick Wakley
After late drama went Bury St Edmunds’ way on Gavin Hogg’s return with Old Albanian, Nick Wakley has revealed he was never getting hung up on the wait for his first win at the GK IPA Haberden.
After two narrow defeats, against Clifton (17-13) and Canterbury (20-14), it looked like the Welshman appointed as Jon Curry’s successor six weeks ago was going to have to carry the burden of another into the Christmas break.
But a Cam Ritchie penalty from around 40 metres out on the right, following the last passage of play, turned the scoreboard from 22-21 in the sixth-placed visitors’ favour to 24-22, much to the delight of a 500-plus home crowd.
But rather than focusing on the relief it gave him, Wakley felt it was just reward for the players continuing to believe in the way he wants them to go about their business.
“I don’t give a t*ss really about my first win here,” he said. “At the end of the day I want the performances and I kept saying to the boys that we look after those facets of the game; our technical processes, our defensive mindsets and our attacking mindsets and the result will take care of itself. And that is a pure example of that.
“I said to them after that I would have been saying the same things whether we had lost that game or whether we had won.
“They put in a great defensive display. The work-rate was great and we were on the bones in terms of injuries.”
Wakley also admitted to being impressed at what a bumper crowd at the Haberden could sound like.
“That was the loudest I have heard it in the six weeks I have been here. It was just brilliant for the boys to get the go forward,” he said. “And fair play to Cameron. That is a real pressure kick from the edge and the young lad has just taken it in his stride and nudged it over for us.”
The home pack was missing both captain Ollie Watson and Pat Robinson among the injury list but repelled Old Albanian’s early forays forward before they nicked a try on the break.
Ben Leng broke from Will Affleck’s pass and played a great give-and-go return with Mark Kohler before laying into the path of Finlay Sharp to dot down 11 minutes in, with Franco Catuogno converting from wide.
A Daniel Watt long-range penalty got OA’s on the scoreboard and their efforts to force a try of their own paid off in the 26th minute with winger Anderson Lloyd opening his legs from just inside his own half after a poor kick from Bury hands.
Kohler and Yasin Browne denied tries with great tackles but Hogg’s side scored again on the stroke of half-time via another breakaway move, which ended with Robert Calder’s kick finding Alssandro Ricci free, with Watt adding the extras for 13-7 at the break.
Bury came out strongly in the second half and had reduced the deficit to a point within eight minutes after Catuogno’s wayward penalty saw OA’s knock-on under pressure and Dave Coutts finished a pick-and-drive routine.
The game continued with the Wolpack on the front foot and it was an unlikely solo charge and shimmy from half-way from number 5 Will Scholes which yielded the next score just before the hour mark, with Ritchie’s conversion putting the hosts 21-15 up.
The St Albans-based visitors edged 22-21 ahead though with a converted try six minutes later for Lloyd in the right-hand corner, following a clever looping pass.
Bury looked to have missed their chance to win it as a long-range penalty from Ritchie dropped wide and a series of scrums from five metres were just about repelled.
But ill-discipline from Hogg’s charges proved ultimately costly as a penalty at the death gave Ritchie chance to be the hero, which he took the second time around.
Bury: 15 Catuogno, 14 Sharp, 13 Kohler, 12 Leng, 11 Bodkin, 10 Ritchie, 9 Affleck, 1 Hill, 2 Francombe, 3 Cooper, 4 Stanley, 5 Scholes, 6 Grey, 7 Brown, 8 Browne. Replacements: Bixby, Torpey, Coutts, Wiltshire, Button.