Latest performances show that Bury can compete at the top end of the table
Bury St Edmunds 19
Bury’s latest international player, Matt Edison, believes Saturday’s narrow defeat to champions Cinderford shows they can mount a sustained promotion challenge next season.
Back-to-back losses over their last two matches, ahead of this weekend’s season-ending trip to Tonbridge Juddians (3pm), does not tell the story after the Wolfpack were in pole position in both games against the division’s top two sides, only to let victories slip through their hands late on.
It means seventh-placed Bury cannot achieve their highest ever finish at this level this term, as if they were to beat Tonbridge, who thrashed them in Suffolk in previous head coach Ollie Smith’s first match, with a 5-0 points outcome, the current sixth-placed side would end the campaign on the same points as them but remain above them due to a better win and defeat record.
But Edison, who played his last game of the season on Saturday, ahead of joining up with his new international team-mates in Norway, after learning of his eligibility to play for a side now coached by former Bury team-mate Ben Scully, says there is much to be hopeful about going into 2018/19.
“It was a brilliant game,” he said. “There was a point in it when we had them by the throat and we could have finished them off, but they are a very good team. They are deserved champions of the league and they got themselves back in it to snatch a victory right at the end.
“It definitely bodes well for us. The boys we have got this season put in a massive performance, especially over the last three games we have really turned a corner with how we want to play and how we step up to each game.
“We have deserved the victories we have got but we have just come up against the best teams in the league and we have shown we can go toe-to-toe with them and match them with everything they have got.”
Gloucestershire outfit Cinderford came out at a packed Haberden — with the crowd thought to top the 600-mark, knowing any win would guarantee them the title with a game to go, while if Canterbury beat second placed Chinnor at home, that would also be enough.
Bury were determined to end on a high note in front of their own fans, however, and went into the interval locked at 5-5 after Mark Kohler replied to Nathan Taylor’s 21st-minute pick and go opener in the 38th minute.
Bury had the crowd in raptures as individual tries from Will Scholes (53’) and captain Liam McBride (56’), both converted by Fraser Honey, opened up a 19-5 lead.
But Cinderford came back with two converted tries of their own, a pushover effort from George Evans (62’) and a touchdown in the corner from Terence Babarinsa, excellently orchestrated by no10 James Moffatt to make it 19-19. Matt Lane then finished in the left-hand corner to ensure they would celebrate the title as winners on the day.
Explaining his newfound lease of life as a senior international, with a game with Luxembourg set to see Edison, who turns 29 next month, make his Norway bow, he said: “I did my USA stuff growing up, the under-21s, and I found out recently I have got a Norwegian heritage. My grandparents in the States emigrated over from Norway and I didn’t realise, but that makes you eligible to play for that country.
“I got in contact with Ben Scully over at Sudbury who is coaching Norway now and I have been over for a couple of training camps and we look like we’re playing Luxemburg next week.
“It will be a nice experience and something in the twilight years of my rugby career that will be a nice way to finish off my rugby career.”
• For a video with performance director Terry Sands, log on to www.buryfreepress.co.uk