By Simon Lord
Once again on their travels to Barnes, two last gasp converted tries denied Bury the bonus point victory their performance deserved.
Most people believed Nick Van Buuren’s try on 73 minutes had given Barnes a losing bonus point but further drama was to happen when Barnes scored with the last play of the match and O Toole’s nerveless conversion from the touchline snatched a draw.
Matches over the years have always been close fought affairs but Bury can feel a little aggrieved that having shaded the contest a series of decisions did not go their way ultimately costing them 2 points.
Having won their previous 3 matches Bury were brimming with confidence and within 6 minutes had opened their account. Having defended an attacking Barnes line out in their own 22, Bury profited slightly from a half charged down kick falling into the arms of Kohler. His break opened up the home defence and Johnson looked odds on to score only to be stopped with the line at his mercy. However the ball came back quickly and Calum Torpey made no mistake from close range. Johnson added the easy extras.
The Wolfpack looked in total control. A good forward drive set up Kohler on the loop to put Bodkin in but the final pass went forward denying the flying winger. However Bodkin didn’t have to wait long for his try. Bury retained possession for over 5 minutes, stretching the hosts first left then right before space finally opened up for Bodkin to stroll over. Johnson was just wide with the conversion but 18 minutes in Bury looked in total control and 12 point to the good.
Bury were then perhaps guilty of dropping their intensity allowing Barnes to wake from their slumber. Barnes profited from a series of penalties awarded against the visitors to camp in the Bury22. Kickable penalties were declined and it looked to have paid dividends when Van Buuren broke through, only for Limlei to make a fantastic last gasp tackle.
However Bury over complicated a line out handing the ball back to Barnes and this time they did kick the ball to the corner for a driving maul try. A sign of things to come saw O Toole land the conversion from wide out to make it 7 – 12.
Barnes now had their tails up but were met with some stiff resistance. Ben Leng and the returning Tui Uru led the defensive effort and quickly turned defence into attack.
Bury thought they had scored their 3rd try on 35 minutes but it was not to be! A solid scrum inside the home 22 gave the space for Limlei to combine with Kohler to send the centre over. However the official deemed Kohler lost control of the ball when putting the ball down…
To rub salt in the wound Barnes went up the other end of the field and were given a series of penalties that culminated in Coutts being shown Yellow for off side and O Toole kicking a penalty to send the sides into the changing rooms at 10 – 12.
HALF TIME: BARNES 10 BURY 12
Bury would have to play the first 9 minutes of the second half with 14 men, but it was they that started the half strongest.
A sweeping move out wide set Bury away, the forwards then took over, driving the ball deep into Barnes territory. The ball once again was retained and recycled over and over again until the ball worked its way to Fin Sharp on the right wing who had too much pace and power to be stopped.
Directly from the re start Bury looked to be adding to their tally. Another flowing move sent Sharp away once more and his pass inside to Kohler for the certain try was deflected forward by a Barnes player. The official however sadly deemed it was a forward pass by Bury and then marched Bury back 10 metres when they protested at the decision.
Credit to the Bury players, they kept their heads as a series of decisions didn’t go their way, and despite the loss of Leng to injury, they kept the hosts at bay.
On 60 minutes Coach Nick Wakley rang the changes up front with Francomb, Graham and Coutts coming on. The switch looked to have worked as the Bury forwards earned a penalty and then drove the resulting line out several metres. Sadly as they closed in on the line they lost possession of the ball and Barnes gleefully hacked the ball down field.
Bury survived one scare when Hammett’s cross field kick bounced kindly towards Bodkin rather than Martey, but their organisation in defence was serving them well. Having weathered the storm it looked like Bury had won the match when they extended their lead with just under 10 mins to go.
Kohler crashed the ball up the middle of the park before Alex Grey’s deft inside pass sent Mike Graham bursting through. The giant lock was in unchartered waters but he sped into the home 22 before timing his pass superbly to the supporting Will Scholes to go over by the posts. The conversion, good, Bury now had a 14 point lead with only minutes remaining.
Credit to Barnes, they threw everything at Bury earning yet another penalty. The ball was kicked deep and the home forwards pushed for the line. The Bury defence once again was good, but having thwarted the initial thrusts a slight lapse in concentration allowed Van Buuren – a thorn in Bury’s side all day – the chance to slice through a score by the posts.
A Grandstand finish, with the hosts backed by raucous support, Barnes pushed for an unlikely third try. With the clock almost up Bury were controversially penalised once again. On the advice of a touch judge the referee decided that a player had been tackled late, awarding Barnes the penalty some 20 m further down field than where the alleged offence occurred.
The Barnes forwards then maximised the kick to the corner, aided and abetted by many of the threequarters, they drove the ball over the line just by the corner flag. O Toole stepped up, kicked superbly and the final whistle was blown! Gut wrenching!
FULL TIME: BARNES 24 Bury 24.
A cracking game with Bury taking three points courtesy of their 4 tries but the overriding emotion at the end was that of a loss. Bury need to channel their frustrations on challenging the Champions elect Reading Rams when they visit The Haberden next Saturday.
Updated 11:26 - 13 Jan 2019 by Nigel Birrell