Bury St Edmunds 18
Henley Hawks 27
New head coach Jon Curry was unable to hide his disappointment after Bury St Edmunds were beaten in his first game at the helm on Saturday.
A number of weeks ago the Wolfpack made ending the campaign within the top six their number one priority, thus securing the club’s best-ever finish at this level.
But the weekend’s loss means Bury’s destiny is no longer in their own hands, with opponents Henley Hawks leapfrogging them into sixth place.
Curry, who has replaced the recently-departed Ollie Smith, said: “It is difficult after a couple of weeks off and a new coach comes in, it unsettles things, but that is a game we should have won and did not do it.
“We gave away too many penalties in the first half, giving the ball away and not looking after it.
“We said that was the most important thing but it did not happen.
“The aim is to get our best-ever league finish this season and now we have a bit of work to do.
“It was a very disappointing game and a very disappointing result.”
The first half was one for the purists as Bury took a 5-3 lead into the break thanks to Sean Stapleton’s 10th-minute try that Fraser Honey was unable to convert.
Honey sent three more penalties wide of the posts during the opening 40 minutes, while the visiting Hawks got on the board thanks to George Jackson’s boot.
Honey’s radar was more accurate early in the second half with a penalty from wide on the right, but almost immediately Henley took a 47th-minute lead.
The pace of full-back Jack Robinson allowed him to go over in the corner, with Jackson doing well to add the extras from out on the right touchline.
Back came Bury, though, as Honey nailed another penalty after the hosts had forced their opponents into an infringement straight from the restart.
Proceedings were now nicely poised at 11-10 in Bury’s favour, but soon after Henley — inspired by the speedy Robinson — took command.
He claimed his second try of the afternoon in the 56th minute with a carbon copy of his first, before two collapsed scrums inside the Bury 22 left referee Ben Wilde with little option but to award a penalty try to the away team.
Bury hinted at a comeback in the 66th minute when Stapleton went over for his second try after a powerful 40-yard drive forward from Matt Edison, but those hopes were extinguished six minutes from time when Robinson latched on to Joe Butler’s smart chip to complete his hat-trick.
Looking ahead to the long-term, Curry revealed he would like to get Bury challenging for promotion: “It is a good club and it has the right ethos — ones that match my own. We would like to go up a league. Given a bit of time that is something I am confident we can achieve.”
Bury will make the trip to Clifton (13th) tomorrow for a rearranged encounter after the original match was postponed on March 3 (3pm).