Four more new signings set to join Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club for Nick Wakley's National League 2 South promotion push
Nick Wakley has taken the number of new signings at Bury St Edmunds ahead of the 2019/20 season - where the stated aim is set to be promotion - to eight after the club confirmed another four additions.
With 16 players from the existing squad having already committed to next season, added to the quartet of new players announced last week, it takes the total number of confirmed names for the squad to 24, as the Wolpack try to steal a march on their rivals by getting things done early.
A pair of full-backs are among the latest batch of signings, with one set to fly over to Suffolk from New Zealand, while another has experience of playing for higher level Chinnor.
The new signings are:
• Kieran Meikle – Athletic wing/full-back from Christchurch, New Zealand who has been playing his rugby at Darfield RFC.
• Tanner Lightfoot – Full-back and former Stellenbosch University player who has had a great rugby education and experience rugby in the UK playing for Bradford & Bingley RFC (sixth tier).
• Cam Mcdonald, – Eastern Counties Under-20s fly-half. Former Chinnor player currently playing at Bracknell (fifth tier), who is hungry for game time and wants to get more senior rugby under his belt.
• Jonjo Fanning - Powerful back-row player who has been playing for Bournville RFC.
Prom-Am general manager Ross Finlay said of Fanning: "With his strong ball carrying capabilities and experience from Bedford’s academy programme he will be real asset to the Bury pack next season."
Of Mcdonald, he said: "Bury St Edmunds RUFC are looking forward to working with the Eastern Counties Under 20’s out-half next season."
They will link up with fellow new signings: Ricky McFalane (hooker), Alex Leo (back row/second row), Vaughan Bentley (prop) and Luc Lee (centre/wing) at the Greene King IPA Haberden for the 2019/20 campaign.
Meanwhile, with head coach Wakley away at the Hong Kong Rugby 10s at the weekend, it was left to ex-Irish international Kevin Maggs to take the reins, for what turned out to be a narrow home defeat to relegation-threatened Birmingham & Solihull.
CLUB MATCH REPORT:
At a sunny Haberden there was a welcome return for full-back Chris Lord after his battle with cancer, which was warmly received by the ‘Wolfpack’ supporters.
The first half was not a pretty sight from the home team's perspective; lots of solid play and fast ball, only to lose it at the critical time.
Tui Uru, who was recently signed by Northampton Saints, made some strong runs, one of which was popped to Cameron Ritchie on the burst, only for Bury to lose the ball in the resultant ruck.
The problem was exacerbated when the increasingly confident Bees began to attack at pace with some slick handling.
A penalty conceded by Lord for coming into the ruck at the side gave the visitors the advantage with a long-range kick into the Bury corner. With the resulting line-out well won, a strong maul and drive for the line gave them visitors a well-deserved try - converted - out wide.
Bury successfully fielded the kick-off and looked sharp with ball in hand, but during a typical long-range pass to get the ball wide, an interception by the Bees centre saw him stroll over for their second try in as many minutes. This time it was well converted by their scrum-half.
So with 12 points unopposed, surely the Bury side would consolidate, dig in and maintain some much needed possession? Sadly not.
Again, seemingly trying to go for the quick high ball, the ball was charged down and with a fortunate bounce, Bees gathered and quickly shipped it wide, for yet another well worked try, again converted.
Ritchie made way for Will Affleck in the second quarter, with a clear instruction to keep hold of the ball.
This seemed to work well with some good rugby from both sides, even though time and time again at crucial moments, Bury spilled the ball.
With half-time approaching and the Bury forwards again on the back foot, Harvey kicked a high ball from deep inside his 22, but yet again Bees fielded the ball well and now with their slick handling backs moving at pace and Bury’s defence seemingly in disarray, the home crowd were left to witness yet another easy, converted try for a 26 point half-time lead.
Affleck struck a confident kick, only to be dropped by the Bees number 8, resulting in a line-out in their 22. A positive for Bury for most of the game, had been good line-out ball and on this occasion, was no different. Lots of sharp running now by the Bury backs with some great interplay.
From a scrum on the half-way line, Lord came into the line at pace, breaking through weak tackles to cross the line in front of an exuberant crowd, to get much-needed points on the board.
Bury then fielded a clean catch from the kick-off, quickly shipped the ball to Mark Kohler who made a darting run for a converted score under the posts.
A Bury penalty on the half-way line was poorly kicked towards newly-named ‘Modges Corner’ and although successfully fielded by the Bees' full-back, the kick for touch did not go far enough.
An opportunity for another reliably won lineout in front of the home crowd, seemed to energise the Wolfpack even further, resulting in driving the ball close to the try line. Bury quickly released it to the backs, allowing Kohler to come into the line at the perfect angle, to run unopposed for yet another quick score under the posts. A successful conversion brought the score back to 26-19.
Entering the final quarter of the game, ill-discipline from Bees led to their number 8 getting a yellow card.
Soon after, Bury brought back Ritchie for Lord and Sam Bixby came on for Graham.
A shoulder charge by one of the Bees pack led to yet another player in the sin bin and the resultant penalty was kicked well into the Bees' 22 again, in front of the home support.
Man-of-the-match Callum Torpey, had been inch perfect all day from hooker and his next line-out was no exception. With another clean catch by the ever lively Tui Uru, some of the backs joined the maul to power over for a pushover try. Alex Grey appeared with the ball in hand and Ritchie slotted the conversion from a difficult angle. The game now level with still 10 minutes to go.
If only Bury could have maintained the momentum they had built, they could have produced a great win.
This sadly was not to be and when Bees slotted a long-range penalty to put them ahead, it was soon clear they were not going to let this lead slip.
The game ended 29-26, which sadly took the edge off a thrilling second half, with the home side at least securing two bonus points to keep them in mid-table (8th).
*A very tough fixture away to promotion-chasing Canterbury is up next, followed by the final home game of the season on April 13 against bottom-of-the-table London Irish Wild Geese.
* See this week's Bury Free Press for a preview to Bury Foxes' promotion play-off match.