Costly errors hands victory to the Hawks!
The visitors capitalised on Bury mistakes in this 11 try thriller to claim the spoils.
Bury only had themselves to blame for defeat in this season opener! It is now 7 times the two sides have met and Bury are still to taste victory! However, they can have no complaints about this result as time and time again they handed over possession to a well organised Henley side to take full advantage.
The early exchanges looked good for Bury, Full Back Cameron Ritchie looking dangerous in attack but a final pass to Wiltshire could not go to hand. A kickable penalty was then declined by Bury, instead they went for the corner. However the 5m lineout was overthrown, Henley regathered, recycled well and then raced down field to send Randle away. Connor O Reily almost prevented the try but Randle had just enough momentum to stretch out and ground the ball down.
Directly from the restart Bury narrowed the deficit. Henley infringed when gathering the ball and Ritchie landed the straight forward penalty to make it 7 – 3. A few minutes later and Bury took the lead for the only time in the match with a fabulous score. The Hawks were on the attack edging towards the Bury 22, but tigerish defence, led by skipper Ollie Watson, forced a knock on and the backs were away! Kohler escaped the initial clutches before finding Ritchie, he then ghosted through a gap, threw an outrageous dummy before slipping back inside to Kohler who in one action caught, fixed the last defender and then looped the ball to the supporting Nick Perez for a fine score.
That was as good as it got for Bury as for the next 50 minutes a catalogue of errors handed the game to Henley who ran in 5 tries!
Bury fumbled the ball when trying to drive the ball back from the kick off and Henley were instantly on the attack. A long pass did not go to hand, but as Bury paused, Xavier Andre didn’t and he gathered up to run in by the posts. Butler’s easy conversion made it 14 – 10
The madness at the re starts continued. The ball was knocked on and Henley were then penalised at the scrum to allow Ritchie to narrow the gap with a well struck penalty.
Bury had their chances to get back ahead..,camping in the visitors 22. However, despite Henley losing a player to the bin and Bury having another attacking 5m line out, they once again lost the ball in contact and a swift counter attack left the Bury back three heavily exposed and winger Sam Portland crossed for Henley.
On the cusp of Half Time Bury gave themselves hope. With the last play of the half Bury had an attacking scrum. The Hawks managed to disrupt the first attempt but at the second time of asking, No 8 Tui Uri managed to spin off the side of the scrum and have enough power to force his way over the line, atoning for his earlier error. Ritchie could not quite land the conversion, meaning the sides left the field with the scoreboard showing 24 – 18 to the visitors.
Bury’s mistakes had been ruthlessly punished by the Hawks and with the coaches words still ringing in their ears, Bury once again handed the initiative back to Henley. With less than 2 minutes on the clock, a poor box kick fell invitingly into Butler’s hands and his clever reverse pass saw Lunnon run in untouched to push the score out to 31 – 18 and a bonus point bagged for the visitors.
Bury did continue to press but Henley were disciplined and organised in defence, everything Bury were not! Another opportunity came and went, this time the line out being adjudged not straight, once again allowing Henley to escape. A huge shove at a resulting scrum gave Henley a penalty which was kicked to the corner. The Hawks pack regathered and drove for the line, Bury should have cleared their lines but a poor kick was returned with interest and this time, after some confusion from referee Collins, a Penalty Try was awarded and a Yellow card to Sam Bixby.
There was still 20 minutes to go, but at 38 – 18 it did not look good for Bury! The healthy Haberden crowd encouraged their side forward and now Henley started to look desperate in defence. Jacob Albon saw Yellow for a series of cynical penalties and from the resulting line out, Bury finally worked the ball in field for Pat Robinson to force his way over by the posts.
Just as people started to hope, another mistake cost Bury dearly. A long down field kick was fielded but a poor return kick was not chased and instead fell into the arms of 4 Henley players looking at only 2 Bury players in reply. Man of the Match Jo Butler could not believe his luck as he simply ran the ball in for the try which he converted himself to push the Hawks back out to 45 – 25 ahead.
Bury certainly finished the stronger and encouragingly for the coaches and crowd scored two deserved tries. Finlay Sharp rounded of a fine move after Kohler’s influential break had been recycled well to work the space for the winger.
Henley were still showing better game management skills in keeping Bury at arms length, but The Wolfpack kept pressing and with just a minute to go scored their 5th try. A line out was driven deep into the Hawks 22 and when the ball came back, Ritchie now at 10, had enough space and speed to squeeze over. His conversion brought Bury within touching distance of a second bonus point, however referee Collins indicated that the Kick Off would be the last play of the match.
Bury fielded the kick off and somehow managed to retain the ball for over 20 phases until they earned a penalty 30 metres out but to the left of the posts. Agonisingly, Ritchie’s kick slid wide thus meaning Bury only took one point from a game.
FINAL SCORE BURY 37 HENLEY 45
A sobering start to the campaign! There were lots of positives from a new side, but if they didn’t know at the start, they know now that you cant hand over chances to sides like Henley and expect to get away with it!