Match Report – Bury St Edmunds v Clifton Saturday 23rd March 2019
Bury travelled to Bristol with a strong team to face Clifton who were in a similar position in the National League 2 table with a best place of sixth the most likely outcome of their season, so this was a crucial match for both sides.
Coach Nick Wakley whose demise as Bury Head Coach for next year was greatly exaggerated (he has signed on for two years) was hoping for a strong performance to consolidate sixth place for Bury after a good week of training.
Bury kicked off into the wind which Clifton cleared with the Bury line out being won – a feature of Bury’s play throughout the game was the excellent set piece, with their lineout and scrum operating well.
The first scrum on half way after five minutes saw Clifton scrum half Mitch Spencer kick through and collect his own kick to score for the hosts, with the subsequent conversion being missed. Bury responded with a number of phases with winger Mike Stanway almost scoring under the posts. Bury did manage to score after nine minutes with Mark Kohler stealing the ball to race over into the corner with Cam Ritchie’s conversion from out wide being successful, the score was now Clifton 5 Bury St Edmunds 7. Bury lost Will Scholes to a leg injury and he was replaced by Sean Davis after twenty two minutes. Shortly after, Clifton were penalised for kicking the ball away and from the subsequent line out, Bury drove towards the Clifton line with a well worked maul resulting in front rower Paddy Robinson scoring. The score was now Clifton 5 Bury St Edmunds 12 with the conversion missed.
Clifton then had a number of opportunities to attack the Bury line but on several occasions the visitors turned the ball over and cleared away, however after thirty five minutes Clifton centre Sam Goatley weaved through the Bury defence to score under the posts, the conversion being successful and the score was 12 each which it remained until half time.
The first period of the second half saw another assault by Clifton on the Bury line through penalties kicked to the corner with mauls from the resulting line outs, all of which were successfully repelled which was a credit to the visiting side. From a Clifton scrum five metres out, Bury turned over the ball and Mark Kohler was released down the right touchline passing deftly inside to former Clifton player Finlay Sharp who scorched away to score a magnificent try. The conversion was missed and with the score now Clifton 12 Bury St Edmunds 17, it was clear that this was going to be a very close affair.
A period of scrappy play ensued with both teams being forced in to errors but playing some excellent rugby none the less. After 62 minutes, Clifton turned over a Bury scrum and scored in the corner with the extras being missed – Clifton 17 Bury St Edmunds 17.
Clifton scored on the seventy third minute with Sam Goatley getting his brace with the conversion by Luke Cozens being successful and the try bonus achieved. So with the score Clifton 24 Bury St Edmunds 17, there were five minutes to go.
Clifton’s Shef Sheriff was yellow carded with the clock in the red for a deliberate knock on, Anton Limlei nudging the ball towards the Clifton 5 metre line. The Bury line out was successful and from the resulting maul, Finlay Sharp went over for his second try of the day. With the score now 22-24, Anton Limlei stepped up to convert but his kick was inches out and the hosts took the win.
So Bury returned from Bristol with two points from an entertaining and hard fought contest with much to be pleased with but as ever, aspects to be worked on and they will rue the three try scoring opportunities they left out there. Next Saturday (30th March 2019) sees the visit to the Greene King IPA Haberden of Birmingham and Solihull who have had a resurgence in form beating Old Albanian 45-32 in their last fixture and looking to avoid relegation.
Updated 13:54 - 2 Apr 2019 by Jane Spetch