Esher stopped in their tracks by mature Bury St Edmunds display at Greene King IPA Haberden
Bury St Edmunds deservedly took the spoils as they brought free scoring Esher down to earth with a bump in a thrilling 24-14 home victory on Saturday in National League 2 South, writes Simon Lord.
Peter Winterbottom’s men arrived on the back of two thumping wins, amassing 115 points in the process but they were met by a Wolfpack still grieving at letting slip a victory the previous week.
An assured display by the hosts gave Nick Wakely’s side a 19-0 lead at the break as they made good use of the strong wind blowing down the Greene King IPA Haberden.
The early exchanges belonged to E’s, Roberts going close with a long-range penalty before his fabulous break ought to have put Beckett in, but the winger fumbled the pass.
The foundation to Bury’s victory was a strong forward platform and in young fly half Alfie Garside they may have found a star for the future.
His opposite number Tristan Roberts was a constant threat for the visitors but it was Garside’s clever cross-field kick that created the first try for Shaq Meyers.
Bury had used the wind well to pin the visitors back and when E’s infringed at a lineout the youngster showed real vision to pick his right winger out.
Playing in to the wind, Esher looked very lively with ball in hand but Bury’s rush defence stifled any real meaningful attacks.
Meanwhile, when Bury had the ball they played with intelligence, kicking deep to get territory and then creating forward pressure to earn them penalties.
From one such penalty Bury doubled their lead. The ball was kicked to the corner before transferring the ball from the lineout to first Ben Cooper and then Ben Leng to crash for the line. Hooker Dan Walshe was up in good support and he crashed over. Seb Dusi added the extras and Bury led 12-0 at the half hour mark.
With such a strong wind in their favour, Bury needed a bigger cushion to make it count and on the stroke of half-time they did just that.
A scrum just inside the Esher half went right before the ball was popped back inside to Garside.
The young fly half burst through a gap and then outrageously side-stepped Clark the Esher full-back for a tremendous score. Dusi’s successful conversion was the last act of the half.
What Bury needed to do in the first 10 minutes of the second half was to keep the game quiet and take the steam out of a side that would have been on the end of some chastening words.
Instead, they conceded a series of penalties to allow Esher to kick to the corner and barrel over hooker Devlin Hope after just six minutes.
The Wolfpack regathered, cut down the expansive play and looked to drive their way down field against the strong head wind.
Substitute Rory Williams made a real impact with both some surging runs and becoming a nuisance at the breakdown.
A quarter of an hour had passed since the restart and the Londoners were clearly becoming frustrated at Bury’s stifling tactics.
Half chances were created but the Bury defence and their scrum in particular stood up to the threat.
Finally, it seemed Roberts and Walsh had combined to create a probable score until the referee brought the play back on advice of his line judge.
An off-the-ball altercation resulted in former Diss man Xavier Valentine being shown a yellow card and Bury being awarded a penalty 40 metres out.
The penalty came to nothing but Esher never really cleared their lines and were forced into a hurried clearance kick.
Full-back Will Affleck gathered the ball off his boot laces at full speed before releasing his centre Greg White. White’s strong run made valuable yards and when the ball came quickly back, Leng straightened the attack to create the space for Chris Lord to canter in for a cracking score.
At 24-7 with 13 minutes to play it looked to have won the game for Bury. However, with Esher back up to full strength they forced Bury into defending for much of the remainder of the match.
The Bury scrum was causing all sorts of problems for Esher, but scrum half Walsh did well once again to get the ball away from his retreating pack to create the space for Tristan Roberts. The livewire fly half eluded two defenders to take the ball close to the line. Esher then stayed patient to create the space for Prop Matt Lowes to crash over.
Robert’s extras closed to gap to just 10 points with nine minutes on the clock. However, as they had done for much of the match, Bury showed real maturity in their play. They kept the ball close, used their forward strength and kicked only when forced.
Dusi attempted a long-range penalty into the wind but it fell short, though Bury were in no mood to let Esher threaten their try line.
They kept the visitors at arms length, running the clock down before Garside happily kicked the ball from the field.
It leaves Bury seventh in the table after four matches with a trip to Barnes up next on Saturday (3pm).
Tries.Meyers 16, Walshe 28, Garsdie 40, Lord 67
ConsDusi x 2
Tries Devlin 45, Lowes 71
ConsRoberts x 2
Star ManTristan Roberts - Esher
Bury: Affleck, Lord, Leng, White, Leeson, Garside, Dusi:
Robinson, Walsh, Cooper, Grey, Browne, Bursey, Watson, Brown:
Res: Williams, Hill, Gardner, Meyers, Harvey
Esher:Clarke, James, Rowland, Chaumaton, Beckett, Roberts, Walsh:
Lowes, Hope, Valentine, Wem, Genltes, Wilkins, Davies, Dow:
Res: Calvert, Lamb, Donnell, Dudley-Jones, Bullock