No reward for great endeavour!
Bury will feel pretty aggrieved to have come away from Somerset with nothing to show for their efforts.
National Division 2
Taunton 24 Bury St Edmunds 10
After some recent rather indifferent away performances, The Wolfpack put a real shift in at a rain swept Hyde Park.
Historic games between the two sides have always been free flowing matches with not more than a score separating the sides. Sadly an already heavy underfoot pitch turned quickly into a quagmire as the rain arrived, meaning the game was always going to be a battle of attrition.
McBride almost opened the scoring for the visitors when early Bury pressure saw a Taunton clearance kick charged down. Sadly the skipper could not quite get to the ball before it went over the dead ball line.
It was the Titans who took the lead on 11 minutes. This time it was Bury that coughed up possession and Mason was first to react. The centre pounced on the loose ball, and when it looked for all the world that he would send his side right, he spotted a dog leg in the Bury defence down the left and engineered the space for Winger Jack Claydon to slide over. Kingdom’s fine conversion from the touchline put the hosts 7 points to the good.
For the next 20 minutes however, it was Bury that held the upper hand. As conditions dictated, the ball was kept close in hand with Uru, King and Mitchell all carrying well. In the scrum Smith and Coutts were holding their own and with Bury having the lions share of possession, they needed to make it count.
A patient attack saw Scholes make significant yards before Snelling carried the move further. The ball was taken up to and over the line but despite both teams seeming certain a try was scored, Referee Davies adjudged the ball to have not been grounded. Again Bury pressed from the resulting scrum and again the ball was deemed to be held up! Frustration for the visitors and when Scholes had the ball knocked out of his hands as he went for the line it merely added to the angst.
With the rain now lashing into the faces of the Bury players, it was a credit in many ways that they still only trailed 7 – 0 let alone be the team on the attack. On 32 minutes, another fine drive by Tui Uru this time did winkle enough space for Scholes to race through and dive over by the posts. Fraser Honey added the extras and Bury were deservedly back level.
The sides went into the break all square but only thanks to a fantastic last gasp tackle by McBride who somehow caught the flying Claydon after he was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce following a high ball.
HALF TIME TAUNTON 7 BURY 7
After the monsoon in the first half, it was no surprise to see both sides re emerge in new shirts for the second half
Were Bury on the brink of a first ever win against the Titans? There was certainly hope! The rain had almost stopped, the breeze would be at their backs and the hosts had not overly threatened in the first period.
Those hopes were to quickly fade within 3 minutes of the restart. Man of the Match Dan Frost, who has recently spent time with Exeter and The Cornish Pirates in the Championship showed a real turn of both pace and power to blast down the blindside swatting away 3 would be tacklers to set up the supporting Jamie Fleming for the score. Again Kingdom, surely the leagues best place kicker, landed the conversion from out of the touchline mud.
The half then settled down into another war of attrition. With Frost making valuable yards down the middle of the park and Kingdom now sitting back in the pocket at ten, launching huge high balls down field, Taunton had laid out their game plan. Bury tried to stay patient looking for any gaps that might appear in the maroon defence. Ashby did spot one gap to send Scholes away but as Bury got in sight of the try line a little knock on saw the move come to a halt.
For most of the match the forward exchanges had been even, but the Titans pack did manage to organise and execute a catch and drive that took them 30 metres before the inevitable penalty from Bury occurred, Rather than elect to go for the corner, Kingdom, perhaps wisely, elected to kick at goal and stretch the lead to 17 - 7.
The Wolfpack showing a spirit and determination that has been sometimes lacking in recent weeks, continued to battle hard. Honey twice pinned Taunton back with superb kicks to the corner and although the hosts cleared their lines the first time, Bury’s Man of the Match, Uri returned the ball with interest on the second occasion giving Honey the simple chance of converting a penalty awardee directly in front of the posts.
17 – 10 with ten minutes to go and Bury with a losing bonus point in the bag, and who knows maybe more?
It was Taunton however who upped the tempo in the final minutes and finished the stronger. On 73 minutes another Frost inspired drive took the Titans deep into the Bury 22 and it took valiant last gasp tackling to hold the hosts up over the line. However with a 5m scrum it still looked ominous for Bury. Smith, Coutts, King and the back 5 dug in and twice stopped attempted shoves for the line before the ball was cleared.
The respite was short lived as back came Taunton laying siege to the Bury line. Again the Bury players put their bodies on the line but they were powerless to prevent sub Chris Francis, running a great angle, from scoring by the posts. It was tough on Bury having worked so hard in such appalling conditions.
As typified their whole day, even in the 80th minute they refused to give in! Bury pressed the Titans back and forced a fumble in their own 22. Ashby kicked the ball through and seemed destined to win the race to touch down before being cynically pulled back by a Taunton player. Referee Davies deemed Ashby’s vociferous appeal rendered the Penalty Try now not applicable and just a penalty to the visitors instead! Bury elected to take a 5m scrum and agonisingly Uri had the ball knocked from his grasp as he drove over the line.
FULL TIME TAUNTON 24 BURY 10
There is no doubt on the balance of play, certainly in the second half, Taunton deserved the win, but whilst Bury can take many positives out of the game, to return 250 miles with nothing to show seemed harsh.
Lord, Corcoran, Rouse, McBride, Snelling, Honey, Ashby. Uri, Stapleton, Comin, Mitchell, Scholes, Coutts, King, Smith.
Res. Greco, Silvestri, Stanley, Merolle, Duplenne.