New Year Hangover!
Not the best way to start 2018!
Old Redcliffians 24 Bury St Edmunds 14
Bury produced arguably their worst performance of the season as they went down to lowly Old Reds.
The Bristol side fully deserved their win as they showed far more heart and desire than The Wolfpack.
The early morning start (7.30) might have been a factor in Bury conceding a try after just 90 seconds but what followed was an error strewn display that saw Bury not even have the comfort of earning a losing bonus point.
Red’s took advantage of the pronounced slope on their small postage stamp sized pitch and from the Kick Off had Bury on the back foot. Chris Lord’s sliced clearance kick was returned with interest and as the Bury defence raced up, the ball was thrown wide for No 8 Ethan Doyle to have a simple run in to the corner!
Bury responded quickly but a little knock on saw a promising attack halted in the oppositions 22… a portent of things to come! Debutant Jake Ashby, playing at Scrum Half tried to get Bury going and hounded his opposite number into handing over possession, but all too often Bury fell foul of referee Selwood be it for a scrum technicality or a ruck offence.
5 minutes of madness saw Redcliffians score again and Bury lose 2 players to the sin bin! First Alex Stanley saw Yellow when he was adjudged to have deliberately not released in the tackle after OR’s had countered from a quickly taken penalty. As Red’s turned the screw, Sean Stapleton then followed to the bin after he went off his feet at a ruck trying to stop a certain score. Inevitably the 13 men could not stop a Penalty Try being awarded as the Red scrum advanced for the line.
Bury to their credit battled hard, raising their intensity in defence and managed to cope with the staff shortages admirably. One shining light for Bury on a grim day was the performance of Connor O Reilly in midfield. His line breaks were a feature of the day and his first reaction to a spilt pass and then burst of speed set up Chris Lord to run in by the posts to send Bury in to the interval only 12 – 7 down.
Bury in glimpses had shown what the back line can do when given the ball in space but it had been all too rare. Reds meanwhile had stuck to a simple game plan that if not skilful, was certainly effective.
With a full complement of 15, the advantage of the slope and hopefully the long journey now fully out of their legs, one fully expected Bury to go on and dominate the second half…
Bury began to enjoy the Lion’s share of the ball but despite good efforts from Kohler and McBride, they laboured to prise open a solid Red’s defence. Bury’s cause was not helped by an inability to tune into Referee Selwood’s interpretation of affairs but largely they were their own worst enemies… Often Bury would get themselves into good attacking positions in the oppositions 22 only to then lose the ball either in contact or through being held up in the tackle or maul.
Red’s hadn’t got out of their own half for the first 20 minutes but on their first meaningful venture into Bury territory they scored! A long kick was chased well hurrying Lord into conceding a line out. The catch was driven on well before Wiltshire peeled off the side, burst away before supplying Clements the chance to dive over.
Still plenty of time for Bury to overcome the ten point deficit, but their attacks continued to be too lateral, lacking the cutting edge or invention to prise open a Red defensive line.
Red’s became increasingly confident that they would claim their second victory of the season and as the Bury error count continued to rise, their frustrations were punished with another try! The Reds claimed the bonus point when a quickly taken line out was driven on at a rate of knots! The disorganised Bury defence was still regrouping when the ball was shipped left from the driving maul for substitute Ben Fry on an unstoppable angle to make it 24 – 7.
The closing minutes saw Bury trying to salvage something from the game. The Reds had given their all and looked dead on their feet. A deliberate knock down 5 metres from the line ought to have seen a Penalty Try awarded but instead Parsons saw Yellow. Bury still however could not score despite numerous penalties and opportunities. Finally some space opened up for Lord to chip over, win the race to his own kick and score by the posts. It was too little and too late and the long journey home was a rather sombre affair!