Bury St Edmunds 33
After helping Bury to end their six-game losing run with a narrow victory over basement dwellers Exmouth, Glyn Hughes believes his new side are only going to get better as they look to beat the drop.
The former Northampton Saints and Wasps fly-half’s surprise arrival on the transfer deadline day the Friday before last — following previous club London Welsh pulling out of the Championship — gave Gavin Hogg’s side a big boost ahead of a key run of fixtures that will go a long way to determining where they play their rugby next season.
But despite making hard work of their home clash with Exmouth — who had been 11 points from safety with seven matches to go heading into the afternoon — Hughes is confident Bury are now on an upward curve at the crucial time.
The five points did not move The Wolfpack any further up the table, but instead of being three places and three points above the bottom three, they are now six points clear of third-from-bottom Barnes, who they travel to in an even more crucial affair tomorrow (3pm).
“There are six games left and I want to give my absolute all to help them to survival,” said Hughes, who knows The Haberden well having won the Greene King IPA Sevens with Northampton Saints in the past, the side at which he made his journey from the academy ranks to the top level of English rugby.
“You’d think this side are too good to go down and we are going to say that, but we have to put that on the field and prove it.
“We have got to be putting away sides like these and we got our five points, so that is all you can ask for really.
“There are another couple of fixtures now that are very winnable and if we pick up a couple of wins then we will be in a good position.”
He added: “There are people, like myself, that are now coming in or returning in critical positions, so I think we are only going to get better.”
After starting like a steam train by putting 14 points on the scoreboard in the opening six minutes on Saturday, with Chris Lord’s delightful 60 metre jinking run inside the opening 30 seconds followed by first-team debtuant Arthur Marini’s strong run, it looked like a rout was in store.
But Bury’s foot certainly came off the pedal and to their East Devon opponent’s credit, they were able to level up the scoreline at 14-14 going into the break — thanks to converted tries from David Bargent and Matthew Ryan — with Bury having seen very little of the ball in hand, following their blistering opening to the game.
The relief around The Haberden was palpable when Sam Sterling’s 48th-minute try — capped with a swallow drive — put them seven points back in front, with Hughes making it three conversions from three.
Exmouth made sure hearts were in mouths thereafter, though, especially when scrum-half Ruairi Cushion went over the try line, only for the referee to rule he had just been hit into touch.
Things looked a lot better for Bury when Lord touched down his second in the 63rd minute, unconverted, but Exmouth’s seven-point reply, after Daniel Swain ran in, left the score at 26-21.
The crucial next score went in the home side’s favour, though, as local lad Lord brought up his hat-trick after a strong switch from right to left.
A red card for Sam Sterling for an apparent elbow and a yellow for captain Tom Rock left Bury defending their line with 13 men in the final stages, and Exmouth got the two bonus points they really deserved when winger Jack Downie squeezed over in the last play to keep their faint hopes of remaining at this level next season just about alive.
As for his own future, Hughes revealed he turned down the second tier before signing for Bury, in the fourth, after a brief spell playing even further down the pyramid in London One North with former loan club Letchworth.
“The last couple of months have been an absolute rollercoaster and it does make you question everything really,” he said.
“I am looking at options and weighing up what I am going to do next year as well, but this is perfect for the time being.
“I had offers for the Championship to go but I felt the Championship was not really going to go anywhere and I am looking at other options.”
After facing Barnes, Bury are then set to take on another side looking over their shoulders in Barnstaple.
Aside from the suspension to be determined for Sterling from the referee’s report being submitted to the RFU, the other casualty of the performance was South African scrum-half Donovan O’Grady’s enforced withdrawal just before the half-hour mark with what was later confirmed as a hamstring injury.
BURY: 15 Lord, 14 Meyers, 13 Sterling, 12 Rock (c), 11 Wiltshire, 10 Hughes, 9 O’Grady, 1 Trinder, 2 Collins, 3 Coutts, 5 Whetton, 4 (wearing 16) Marini, 6 Ellis, 7 Stapleton, 8 Koroiyadi (Maku). Replacements: Selby, Griffiths, Turner, Micklethwaite, Anderson-Brown.