Blistering start in Bristol sends Bury St Edmunds on their way to tying up victory against Dings Crusaders
A superb opening 40 minutes secured Bury St Edmunds a comfortable win in Bristol, beating Dings Crusaders 36-24 in National League 2 South, writes Simon Lord.
The Wolfpack banished the blues of last week’s heart-breaking loss running in four first half tries to lead 26-5 at the break. And although they let Dings come back with a couple of scores, the result was never in doubt.
In recent weeks Dings, at their impressive Shaftesbury Park facilities, have developed a reputation for establishing big early leads as the visitors sometimes adjust to playing on the 3G surface.
But it was Bury that burst out of the blocks. The tone was set from the kick-off, Matt Bursey fielding the ball and driving well into the Dings half to establish an attacking platform.
Twice Bury ought to have scored when just metres from the line but on both occasions pressure from the Dings defence forced Bury to knock on.
However, Dings' respite was not to last for long. On eight minutes another hurried clearance kick found Ciaran Leeson on the half-way line and the pacy left winger weaved his way through four missed tackles to score out wide. Kodie Drury Hawkin’s fine conversion made it 7-0.
The intensity, slightly missing last week, was there for all to see as Dings were constantly pushed back and forced into hurried passes. Pat Robinson intercepted one hopeful pass but it was perhaps too much to expect the prop forward to out sprint the defence from 55m.
There was real quality in the patience and variety of Bury’s attacks. Half breaks and good hands created the space for Will Affleck to race towards the right corner. Although Dings managed to prevent the score, when the ball came back left, players were queuing up to score and Alex Grey stepped inside his man to dot down by the posts.
Dings had not really touched the ball in the first 15 minutes but they showed just how dangerous they could be with their first series of plays.
Fly-half Steve Plummer looped round to receive the ball a second time, opening up a gap for winger Tom Hargan to cut a great line and score out wide.
The immaculate 3G pitch makes for open attractive rugby and Bury were revelling on it.
Dings however, were error strewn as Bury’s defence forced them into numerous mistakes.
Dan Walshe made two telling breaks, one from an overthrown lineout and another when he caught a clearance kick-off his bootlaces to give Bury a scrum on half way.
Ben Cooper replacing player-coach Ben Cooper who made an immediate impact. His power earned Bury a penalty which was kicked to the 22 and the Wolfpack then drove the resulting line out all the way over the line for a Tom Milosevic try.
The Wolfpack had the bonus point in the bag before the break when once again good initial defence was turned into attack.
Bursey made good yards from a scrum, Ben Leng made a surging run before being halted abruptly, but whilst Dings celebrated the crunching tackle Drury Hawkins kept the move going, chipping behind the defence for his forwards to regather and rumble Alex Leo over the line.
HALF TIME: DINGS 5BURY 26
Dings clearly chastened, emerged from the changing rooms in determined mood and gave themselves a glimmer of hope early in the second half when Hargan collected his second try.
Bury had cleared the ball to half way but the Dings lineout worked well and Hargan came in off his wing to burst through a gap in midfield and then show a clean pair of heels to many a would-be pursuer.
This was Ding’s chance to get back into the game and they pressed hard. However, the Wolfpack defence was sound and they managed to take the sting out of the attacks.
This was further emphasised when Bury wisely elected to kick for goal after Dings transgressed just inside their own half. Dan Walshe’s fine run following a turnover allowed Hawkins to convert from fully 40 metres.
Dings continued to attack, looking dangerous out wide, but with Grey and Bursey to the fore, they struggled to breach the Bury defence.
Both sides had half chances but little errors proved costly. Certainly Bury ought to have extended their lead when they had a lineout just seven metres from the Crusaders' line but when it mattered most the throw went astray.
It proved costly as Dings then caught and drove a lineout of their own fully 30 metres to rumble over in the corner. Plummer converted via post and bar and suddenly the score board had a more worrying look at 29-17 with 15 minutes remaining.
People need not have panicked. Directly from the restart Bury re-established their comfortable lead. Dings fumbled the kick-off and Bury pounced. Quick passes got the ball to substitute Harvey who in turn fired out a long flat pass to Hawkins. The fly half then showed real vision to chip the ball behind the floundering defence for Will Affleck to race onto and canter in round by the posts; 36-17 and the game in the bag.
Bury were back now in control playing some fantastic rugby looking to close the game out before a crazy last seven minutes.
A Dings attack that was not really going anywhere on half way was halted by a Du Randt tip tackle but fortunately for the youngster his tackle was deemed reckless and not malicious and he was shown a yellow card.
With Bury now forced to defend the last few minutes a man down, Dings pressed for a fourth try that would salvage them a losing bonus point.
Desperation can make you do silly things and quite why one of the Dings forwards felt the need to knee Cooper in the head at a ruck is a mystery as the only thing he achieved was a red card.
The game ended in contrasting emotions. With the last play of the game, a very passive Bury defence allowed Dings to drive their way over the line for that elusive point.
The Crusaders were suitably elated having got something out of a game they were never really in, whilst Bury left the field deflated at letting a lot of their early good work be eroded.
After a 14 hour day it is always great to return with five points and the side will hopefully reflect on the many positives before the seventh-placed side face in-form Redruth (4th) at The Haberden on Saturday. The game is a 2pm kick-off to help with the Cornishmen’s travel plans.
More by this authorRussell Claydon