Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve…
By Simon Lord
Bury fail to capitalise on early dominance to let victory slip away.
Bury will feel they missed a great opportunity to break their duck at The Slade on Saturday…Instead they slipped to a frustrating defeat, a last gasp try denying the visitors even the solace of a losing bonus point.
Few, if anyone at the ground, could have predicted the outcome of the match after Bury had dominated the opening. Receiving the Kick Off, Bury did not surrender the ball for fully 21 minutes!
An opening try arrived after just 4 minutes. Scholes stole a TJ line out, the ball was transferred quickly to the threequarters where Sharp burst into the line. He sent Bodkin away and then was up in good support to receive the inside pass for the score.
Quite then how Bury did not extend their lead was a mystery. They were in total control, continually recycling the ball and going through phases to stretch the home defence to its absolute limits.
Penalties were earned and kicked to the corner, close range scrums were taken and still Bury could not get over the line. Twice Bury butchered glorious scoring opportunities and Francombe looked certain for a score only to be dragged down inches short.
The clock now showed over 20 minutes and still only 5 – 0. Bury’s frustrations began to mount and with another attack not really going anywhere the inevitable happened. An aimless box kick was skewed straight into the arms of Galbraith – Lowe. The winger could not believe his luck and with no one in front of him, ran 40m to score in the corner.
Incredible! TJ’s hadn’t touched the ball and yet amazingly the scoreboard read 5 – 5.
Suddenly now the hosts had belief and Bury began to flounder in the soggy under foot conditions. An early engagement at a scrum allowed livewire scrum half Edwards the chance to take a quick tap penalty. He raced into the Bury 22 and a desperate Bury defence resulted in Connor O Reily seeing Yellow for knocking the ball down. Robinson landed the straight forward penalty and Bury would have to play the last 10 minutes of the half with 14 men.
Bury had lost their shape and had dropped the intensity of the opening 20 minutes. Robinson showed his experience to twice take advantage of the elements to boom the ball downfield. Bury were looking to get to the break only 8 – 5 down but it was not to be. From a scrum on their own 22, TJ’s broke blind and one missed tackle then exposed the lack of numbers in the backs. Watson combined well to send Full Back May in by the corner flag. Robinsons conversion went in off the post and the Half Time score read 15 – 5
HALF TIME. TJ’s 15 BURY 5
Bury restored to 15 for the second half would also have the elements at their back, along with some chastening words in their ears from the coaching staff.
However, despite a bright start, Edwards was once again a thorn in Bury’s side!
A sweeping counter attack was halted illegaly on half way and before Bury could react, Edwards had taken the kick and was off and running. One or two tackles were too half hearted and when lock forward Matt Jurevicus received the ball 6m out, he was never going to be stopped. Robinson again converted from wide out and it now stood at 22 – 5
Injuries and tactics saw Bury ring the changes but it didn’t really change the pattern of the match. TJ’s continued to thwart Bury with good defence and the ability to slow the ball down at the break down. In fairness Bury did not deserve to score as they lacked the accuracy or attitude to unlock the stubborn hosts.
After a lot of huff and puff, Bury’s persistence finally paid off. Alex Grey, one of few Bury players to shine, burst through two tackles and raced down field. Toby Francombe was up in support to continue the break before he off loaded to Sam Bixby to run in by the posts.
Trailing now by only 10 the game was back in the balance, although Harvey’s clearance kick being charged down set the alarms bell ringing. Fortunately Bury were saved by the unlikely sight of Sam Bixby taking matters into his own hands and hoofing the ball 50metres down the field to save the day.
15 minutes to go and the game suddenly opened up. Robinsons superb cross field kick sent Galbraith – Lowe away only for Limlei to intercept what looked like a try scoring pass. Then Will Scholes galloped away from out stretched arms only for Colderick of TJ’s to intercept his pass and save the day.
Bury had rediscovered the form of the opening 20 minutes and had much more energy about them. A penalty was kicked to the 25m line. Quick ball off the top sent Bodkin racing for the line. The Bury forwards pushed for the score but TJ’s survived at the expense of a scrum under their posts. The Bury scrum was good and referee penalised TJ’s for collapsing the drive. Surely Bury would scrum again and any infringement would bring about a penalty try? Instead, rather strangely, they elected to take the straight forward 3 points.
Yes, Bury were now only 7 points adrift at 22 – 15 and a bonus point in hand, but a Penalty Try would have made it 22 – 19 and set up a grandstand last 5 minutes.
Chasing a try to draw level, Bury were forced into having to run the ball from deep in difficult conditions. TJ’s were determined not to let their lead slip and who knows perhaps grab a 4th bonus point earning try.
A fumble in the Bury 22 gave the ball back to the hosts and they turned the screw. A penalty was kicked to the corner but Bury somehow survived. TJ’s pressed again and a series of drives sucked in the defence before the ball was sent wide. Affleck’s attempt at an interception resulted in the ball being knocked forward and him being shown a yellow card. The resulting scrum 15 metres out was the last play of the match and although the Bury forwards held their own, the ball was switched down the blindside for TJ’s to make use of the extra man to squeeze substitute Chapman over in the corner.
FULL TIME TJ’S 27 BURY 15
A disappointing and frustrating end to the day. Bury certainly deserved to have travelled home with at least a point and had they shown a little more composure, especially in the opening 20 minutes might even have taken a lot more.