The Wolfpack down the Geese in horror conditions
By Nigel Birrell
Bury return from West London with a bonus point victory
The Wolfpack triumphed at Hazlewood in atrocious conditions against a dogged London Irish team.
The weather was truly awful – in the scale of awfulness it was a nine out of ten with the temperature hovering around zero degrees and 40mph winds driving rain and sleet across the pitch. Despite the conditions, there was some excellent rugby played.
Bury were playing with the wind and sleet in the first half and knocked on from the kick off but defended the resulting scrum well and the Irish attack was repelled. However after 6 minutes from a Bury clearing kick, the hosts scored the first try with winger Josh Amadi scorching down the left wing to dive over in the corner with the conversion being missed.
After 11 minutes the visitors scored the first of their tries with Tui Uru offloading beautifully to flanker Tom Browne who scored under the posts, Franco Catuogno converting.
A period of deadlock then ensued, with both teams defending well and trying to play expansive rugby in the driving rain with notably few handling errors. After thirty minutes, London Irish number eight Chris Brown was red carded when he head-butted Yasin Browne and three minutes later Bury scored their second try, the referee playing an advantage from a penalty against Irish, Cam Ritchie kicked through perfectly for Mark Kohler to pounce and score, Franco Catuogno again being successful with the conversion.
Bury were starting to dominate both in attack and defence with Irish not being able to penetrate the well drilled Wolfpack line. The home side understandably kicked to their opponents on several occasions but Bury full back Franco Catuogno was imperious under the high ball and his own kicking into the corners was very accurate.
Two minutes before half time, Bury scored again through Alex Grey who gratefully received another Tui Uru offload from a dominant scrum and sprinted through to score, the conversion being unsuccessful. With the score at half time 5 – 19, both teams scurried for the warmth of the changing rooms.
With no change in the conditions, the second half was going to be hard graft for both teams. The Bury supporters seemed to outnumber those of the home side who perhaps wisely remained in the club house. Mark Kohler scored Bury’s fourth try on 46 minutes, Ben Leng breaking through the middle and offloading to the flying centre – Franco Catuogno converted and the score was 5 – 26 with Bury securing the bonus point.
Bury rang the changes with Will Affleck on for Anton Limlei, Sam Bixby for Alex Grey and David Coutts for Toby Hill. Bixby made some characteristic barrelling carries through the Irish defence and the Bury forwards in general were playing well. Yasin Browne and Will Scholes were stealing line outs for fun and Man of the Match hooker Toby Francombe anchored the Bury scrum which dominated their opponents all day.
The second half petered out with no further scores, both teams trying to play fluent rugby which was impossible in the foul conditions, the awfulness now a firm 9.5.
This was a strong performance from Bury who will look forward to welcoming former coach Gav Hogg to the Green King IPA Haberden when Old Albanians visit on Saturday 22nd December.