Cam's Christmas Cracker!
By Simon Lord
The fly half's nerveless penalty gave The Haberden faithful an early Christmas present!
Bury St Edmunds 24 v Old Albanians 22
A last gasp converted penalty by Cam Ritchie snatched the win to deny former coach Gavin Hogg a winning return to Suffolk.
With regular kicker Franco Cataugno off the field, it was left to the fly half to steal the show with a dramatic long range penalty.
The visitors had dominated the first period but a tremendous defensive display by Bury had kept the scores to 7 – 15 at the break. Despite dominating the territory and possession charts, Bury’s determination and organisation prevented OA’s creating many meaningful attacks.
Fin Sharpe had opened the scoring for Bury on 10 minutes, after Leng and Kohler had exchanged passes as they broke downfield before finding the left winger in space to finish the move.
OA’s slowly edged their way back in the contest with a well struck Dan Watts penalty. 10 minutes later an electric break by winger Lloyd Anderson proved too much for a floundering defence to put the Hertfordshire boys ahead as he raced onto a poor clearance kick.
As the game approached half time, the visitors once again capitalised on a Bury error, turning the ball over and escaping down the blind side. Bury managed to stop the initial attack but OAs were queuing up out wide and Ricci was “home alone” and thus the grateful recipient of Starling’s clever cross field kick. Watts landed the conversion to send OA’s into the changing rooms 15 – 7 ahead.
The second half saw a turn around in fortunes with the home side now in the ascendancy.
Catuogno saw a penalty slide wide for Bury but the hosts were not going to let OA’s escape easily and pressure told resulting in a Bury scrum inside the visitors 22. Yas Brown drove for the line before Dave Coutts was able to spin off an attacking maul to power over from close range. The conversion brought it back to 14 – 15 and anybody’s game.
Both sides pressed for the next score but it was Bury that took the lead however the scorer was perhaps a surprise. A Bury attack 40 metres out found lock forward Will Scholes who burst through the tackle and then suddenly saw space open up in front of him. The second row had enough speed to out pace any would be tacklers to touch down by the posts.
Suddenly an hour in and Bury led by six…
The old boys were not for rolling over and having forced Bury to back track OA’s earned an attacking scrum 10metres out themselves. No8 Chris West spun off the side and then when it seemed space had run out, threw a clever overhead pass to Anderson for a score in the corner.
Dan West’s nerveless touchline conversion stunned the noisy crowd and one assumed victory for the visitors.
However it was not to be and as OA’s tried to run the clock down they were guilty of going off their feet a ruck to give Ritchie one last chance to steal the win for Bury.
The fly half’s kick from 40metres crept to over the bar to huge cheers from the 500 plus crowd and prompting despair from Hogg and his team.