Narrow defeat for Nick Wakley in first game in charge of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club
Rome wasn’t built in a day – and nor will Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club – new head coach Nick Wakley has said, following defeat in his first game in charge.
The National League 2 South side lost 17-13 at The GK IPA Haberden on Saturday in a cagey game as cold temperatures swept across the region.
But, despite the loss, the Welshman saw a lot of positives for the club to take going into the away trip to Birmingham & Solihull (2.30pm).
He said: “It’s bound to be like this at the start with a new coach and the players want to impress, so there was plenty of tempo, just not much direction.
“I don’t feel too worried about that though, because that will be fed in over the next few weeks and we will become much more rounded.
“We did really well in the first half but conditioning is also an issue; trying to make them go for another 20 or so minutes is a test for these boys.
“It’s only my second week but there are a lot of positives; I did see a much better defensive work-rate.
“If we can marry up that work-rate with our want to keep the ball, the rest of the season could be exciting.
“I will do individual reviews before a team review ahead of our next game in Birmingham – I think it’s important to take the time to analyse the good and the bad one-on-one as well as a whole team.
“And, if I’m brutally honest, there were one or two performances that were under-par; I’m sure the boys will know who I’m talking about so there’s no need to name names.
“But, on the other hand, I thought Ben (Leng) was very industrious in the centre and Tom Brown was everywhere and put his body on the line a few times.
“So I’m pleased with their efforts.”
It had been a dream start for the Wolfpack as they attacked from the kick-off, spending the first 25 minutes camped in the Clifton half before the first score came.
Mark Kohler scored the first of his two tries on the day after a great breakthrough from the opposite winger, Finlay Sharp.
The two wingers combined well to suggest a good partnership could develop, with both tries coming from the three-quarter line.
Nick Perez missed the conversion from the far right touchline as the kicker failed to convert all chances on the day – while the visiting kicker did not miss.
“Mathematically, we won the game if we scored our kicks, “ Wakley said.
“But I’m not looking at the missed kicks as the win or loss of a game, they were all difficult and it’s ridiculous to pile all the pressure on a kicker.
“We played the lion share of the game and possession in the first half and we didn’t see it off. We had the opportunities to score and put this game out of sight, that’s where we failed.
“And, knowing Nick, he will be out on Saturday looking to put that right, which is a great attitude to have.”
Despite sustained pressure in the Clifton 22, Bury were only able to take five points from the half to see the half-time score at 5-3 and the game hanging in the balance, but with the home team with the scoring momentum.
The second half began with Bury back in the ascendancy. But handling errors prevented two key chances being converted into points.
Kohler’s try down the right wing was simple after a 25m lineout from a penalty was nicely worked across the field before the number 14 dotted down.
But Clifton’s enthusiasm seemed to lift with the score, and the remainder of the game saw the visitors increasingly on the front foot as they scored two tries to see their score to an unassailable 17 points.
Wakley said: “The fact is, we didn’t deserve to win it.
“Clifton came with a mindset to play and they played possession ball well – they looked dangerous in the strike area.
“We failed to get on the ball enough and keep the possession away from them and move their big forwards around.
“We didn’t do it effectively or for long enough.
“We coughed the ball up cheaply far too many times. But, to be fair, we only conceded 17 and, as a defensive display, we didn’t do too badly.
“We’re getting our policies and defence structure and it just needs a bit of time.
“And some attacking structure clearly needs introducing too; it was a bit headless.
“It’s important that I don’t try and change too much too quickly though, that would just overload the boys with information.
“It’s a challenge, make no mistakes, to find the right combination.
“The league is strong and there will be plenty of upsets along the way, but we have to try to make The Haberden a really tough place to come; it needs to be a fortress. So Birmingham next and then back for another go here.”
Bury: Robinson, Argerich, Cooper, Graham, Scholes, Uru, T. Brown, Y. Brown, Hasenlechner, Perez, Sharp, Leng, O’Reilly, Kohler, Catuogno.