Alex Grey's hat-trick helps Bury St Edmunds edge nip-and-tuck contest with Leicester Lions to bounce back at the GK IPA Haberden
Bury St Edmunds shaded an evenly matched eight-try thriller against Leicester Lions at the Greene King IPA Haberden on Saturday to win by a 29-28 scoreline, writes Simon Lord.
The two sides scored four tries each with Bury doing just about enough to earn the victory and bounce back from two home defeats, having won at Dings Crusaders in-between. It keeps them eighth in the table but closes the gap to the sixth-placed Lions from eight to five points.
On Saturday The Wolfpack could never quite shake off the determined visitors as almost every score established by Bury was cancelled out by the Leicestershire side.
Relief only came to Bury at the final whistle, till then, one could never relax.
The hosts began brightly, spraying the ball wide at pace. Lions scrum-half Ben Young (not the same one!) was fortunate not to see yellow for a clothes-line tackle on Will Affleck. The talismanic full back was fortunately not hurt and moments later he combined well with Stanway to get Bury into the visitors' 22.
Good work in midfield created the space for Greg White to draw the final cover defence in and send Tanner Lightfoot in for the first try on nine minutes.
As was to happen for much of the game, the score for Bury was negated by Jay Hare’s quick response. Young’s break down the blindside created the space for the left wing.
Before the Lions could take stock back came Bury. Ben Leng's crashing run from a well worked line-out took Bury close to the line and Alex Grey scored the first of his three tries, bursting over from eight metres. Hawkins' extras pushed Bury out to 14-5 but, again, The Wolfpack could never escape the clutches of a determined and well organised Leicester side.
The Lions' scrum was more than holding its own in the set piece and therefore it was not too much of a surprise that they declined an easy penalty kick at goal, instead electing for a five metre scrum. Bury stopped the initial drives from the scrum but were unable to prevent Ollie Tapscott barging over from close range.
The topsy-turvey nature of the game continued for the remainder of the half with both sides' attacks looking better than their defences.
Grey added to his tally on 30 minutes following good work by Tom Milosevic to break through two tackles. Hawkins' conversion attempt came back off the post but the try had pushed Bury out to a 19-12 lead.
However, Youngs' two long-range penalties sent Bury into the break only a point to the good at 19-18.
The second half did not start well for Bury as they fumbled the kick-off, but great defensive work turned the ball over and Seb Dusi could clear well.
Grey completed his hat-trick early in the second half, again from close range, following the familiar bursting run from Leng down the middle of the park.
But as often before, Bury could not get the killer next score to open up some breathing space.
Instead it was Jack Dickinson who was driven over just after the hour mark to bring the score back to just three in Bury’s favour.
As the game entered its closing minutes, Bury’s persistence was rewarded with a penalty and wisely they elected to kick at goal. Hawkins' successful penalty gave Bury a crucial six-point cushion.
Once again though, Leicester refused to accept defeat and when Hooper was the kind beneficiary of a horrible bounce to sprint into the corner.
Youngs had the chance to steal the game with a touchline conversion but unfortunately for the visitors, the kick drifted across the posts to the relief of the Haberden home faithful.
Bury were then able to run down the closing six minutes for a much-needed victory. The side begin a run of consecutive away matches on Saturday, first at Sutton & Epsom (3pm) and then down in Redruth the following weekend (2.30pm).
Scores: Bury: Tries: Lightfoot 11, Grey 17, 30, 46; Cons: Hawkins 3l Pens: Hawkins.
Leicester Lions: Tries: Hare 14, Tapscott 24, Dickinson 65, Hooper 72; Cons: Youngs; Pens: Young 2
Bury Coaches' Man of The Match: Alex Grey.
Teams: Bury: Affleck, Stanway, White, Leng, Lightfoot, Hawkins, Dusi; Robinson, Gardner, Cooper, Leo, Grey, Watson, Milosevic, Bursey. Replacements: Griggs - Pettit, Hill, Gidiniov, Brown, Garside.
Leicester: Johnson, Henderson, Hamilton, Glynn, Constant, Young, Stubbs; McNaughton, Dickinson, Murray, Tapscott, Ward, Hutchinson, Murdoch, Cairns. Replacements: Loveday, Roberts, Turner, Hooper Smit.
More by this authorRussell Claydon