Bury sting the Bees!
By Simon Lord
Bury produced a stirring display to earn 5 much needed points!
Having cut the Bees apart in the first half, Bury then put in a determined defensive second half display to keep the home side at bay when reduced to 13 men.
Travelling to the basement dwellers having not won any of their previous 5 matches, Bury were under pressure to claim a win. With advantage of a strong wind at their backs, the Wolfpack burst out of the blocks scoring after just 2 minutes.
Cam Ritchie, back in the side at Fly Half, burst through two tackles in midfield to race clear. Returning skipper Ollie Watson was up in good support as Ritchie fixed the last defender to send his captain in under the posts. Franco Cautogno added the easy extras.
Cautogno almost increased Bury’s lead when attempting a penalty from 40 metres but his kick hit the cross bar and came back into the grateful arms of the Bees full back who hurriedly scrambled the ball away.
With both sets of forwards looking evenly matched, it was the Bury threequarters that were making the difference and on 12 minutes Bury scored again with a thrilling try.
Cautogno fielded a long clearance kick and ran the ball back, Ben Leng then burst through the midfield defence before popping the ball off to Connor O Reilly to make yards. The centre then had the presence of mind to slip the ball back inside to the supporting Tom Brown for a glorious score. The try was converted and Bury led 14 – 0.
Bury looked so much more aggressive in defence than the hosts. Props, centres, back rows, all were committed to stopping the Bees in their tracks. In contrast, Leng and O Reilly were regularly breaking through a flimsy midfield defence. From one such break by Leng, Bury scored their third try! He took the ball into the 22 before the forwards took over driving for the line. Debutant Scrum Half Anton Limlei’s half break sucked in the final cover defence before the ball was sent right for O Reilly to stroll over.
19 points to the good, Bury let their intensity drop and it allowed the Bees their best period of the match. One missed tackle and before Bury knew it, the ball was worked to left wing Matt Dight for a score in the corner.
The try gave the hosts belief and a couple of penalties gave them an attacking line out 10m from the Bury try line. As the Bees drove for the line, it looked like Bury had managed to divert them into touch. Somehow Matt Spink managed to get the ball down inches from the corner flag.
At 19 – 10 suddenly it looked like game on, however Bury grabbed their 4th and bonus point earning try just before the break. With Bees on top, it was a rather fortunate try but gratefully received. A speculative kick ahead by Birmingham rebounded off a Bury player in the opposite direction. O Reilly then hacked the ball on and his centre cohort Leng comfortably won the race to touch the ball down. Cautogno’s fine touchline conversion sent Bury into the break 26 – 10 ahead.
The second half began with Bury on the front foot, but the hosts clearly stung by their coaches half time words, looked far more determined in defence.
It took 15 minutes before the deadlock was broken, but when it came it was a glorious try. Again, it all started with a poor clearance kick, this time fielded by Kohler. He ran the ball back past two defenders before off loading to Pat Robinson. Robinson fed the ball on to Uru who returned the compliment leaving the prop with 30 metres to go and no one in front of him. No one was more surprised than Robinson himself as he raced over for the score.
33 points to 10 looked like game over but the Bees refused to lie down! They threw everything at Bury and now it was the Wolfpack under pressure and conceding penalties. Having warned the team moments earlier, it was inevitable that Kohler would be shown a yellow card when he was adjudged to have gone off his feet at a ruck.
Bees made the extra man count when they once again managed to force the ball down from a line out close in. The grounding did not look conclusive and Tui Uru’s questioning of the decision saw him shown a straight red card!
In a matter of seconds Bury had conceded a try and would have to play for the remaining 20 minutes with 14 players and for the first 10 of those with only 13!
The euphoria and confidence of the large noisy travelling support suddenly had drained to be replaced by nervous shouts of encouragement. The players however were not in the mood to let their hard work be undone.
Even the loss of skipper Ollie Watson to another injury did not deter them. The forwards showed some real grit and determination to battle against superior numbers whilst out wide the threequarters stayed organised to shepherd several attacks into touch.
The defensive display was such that by the end of the match the Bees seemd to have run out of ideas and it was Bury that almost scored again. Once again Ben Leng burst through tired tackles before supplying Fin Sharpe. Sadly the winger was bundled into touch metres short to end a dramatic match.