Brad the boot nicks it for Clifton
By Simon Lord
Bury struggled to reproduce the form they showed last week and were punished by a dogged Clifton side.
A backs to the wall defensive display earned the visitors this crucial victory. The win edges Clifton further away from the danger zone whilst Bury will now be looking nervously over their shoulders.
After the encouraging display at Redruth the previous week, this was not the performance new coach Nick Wakley would have wished for! The Bury team seemed strangely subdued and could never seem to up the tempo when it was required.
In hard fought close game with both sides’ defences on top, the boot of Brad Barnes proved the difference. As Bury managed only one kick from 5 attempts, Barnes landed all 3 of his attempts, two crucially from the touchline.
On a cold dank dismal day the match failed to lift the spirits of the crowd as neither side lacked the creativity or nous to break each other’s aggressive defence down. The game turned into an arm wrestle which suited Clifton fine.
Bury shaded the early exchanges but lost control of the ball on a couple of occasions having got into promising positions. Perez had a penalty attempt drift wide before finally Kohler broke the deadlock on 20 mins. Fin Sharpe came in off his wing to make yards before firing a long flat pass to Kohler. The right wing still had work to do but he avoided his tackler and then had enough pace to get the ball down in the corner.
Sharpe and Kohler were Bury’s principle attacking weapons, but the Clifton defence stood firm, that said, they were perhaps fortunate that the officials deemed Scholes pass to Kohler had gone forward prior to the winger touching down again.
Perez was unlucky to see another penalty attempt come back of the upright as Clifton rode their luck but as the half wore on, the visitors gradually began to get more of a foothold in the game and on the cusp of half time, Barnes landed a straight forward penalty to make it 5 – 3 at the interval.
HALF TIME BURY 5 CLIFTON 3
The second half began with Bury back in the ascendancy, but again first a fumble and then a slip prevented chances being converted. A strong Bury scrum allowed Hasenlechner to pounce on the loose ball to earn Bury a penalty.
The ball was kicked to the 25m, and Bury worked the ball from the line out towards the try line before sending the ball out to Kohler for a simple score.
The early score raised the optimism, however Bury could not kick on and again chances were wasted. A yellow card to Browne for a high tackle was punished by Clifton who went through the phases to send Rovery over. Barnes fine conversion brought the sides level.
Bury responded brightly with O Reilly and Uru carrying the ball well to force Clifton into conceding a penalty. Surprisingly Bury declined to kick for the corner, instead, Cautogno who had taken over the kicking duties edged Bury back ahead on the hour.
The lead was short lived! Bury knocked on the restart, handing the ball back to the visitors in their own 22. Clifton stayed patient, used their extra man to finally create space for Pomprhey to squeeze over. Barnes once again converted superbly from the touchline and Clifton led for the first time in the contest.
Bury battled bravely, but Clifton looked in control, comfortably dealing with the increasingly frantic Bury attacks. In the dying moments Bury had a chance to snatch the game but determined Clifton defence forced The Wolfpack to loose control of the ball when only feet from the line, prompting wild celebrations from the Bristolians.