The Crusade West falls short
By Simon Lord
A storming finish to a game that Bury had not really performed in, almost salvaged a draw for The Wolfpack.
National League Division 2
Dings Crusaders 21 Bury 14
Despite laying siege to the Dings try line, Bury could not force their way over. A fumbled pass in the build up to Alex Grey going over for the try proved to be the last act of the day and a frustrating end to the visitors.
Bury arrived at the impressive state of the art Shaftesbury Park in buoyant mood, looking forward to playing on the fast 4G pitch.
To be fair, a draw would have papered over the cracks of a disappointing display by Bury. Having produced an exhilarating performance the previous week, Bury, whilst having plenty of possession, lacked the intensity to break down a determined Dings for far too long in the contest.
Dings No 8 Michele Canulli was a constant thorn in Bury’s side and his powerfull drive from a scrum 35m out earned his side a penalty under the posts which Plummer duly despatched on 8 minutes.
Both sides looked to be expansive on the superb playing surface and chances came and went for both sides before an overthrown Bury line out was seized on by Canulli to set his side away. Former Bristol Bath and Exeter Fly Half Luke Arscott needed no second invitation and he put Matt Smith into space. The centre got outside Mark Kohler and then the strength to bounce off Jack Johnson’s attempted tackle to score in the corner.
Bury responded well even if the attacks were a little lateral. The chance to close in on the Dings line was wasted with a missed kick to touch allowing the hosts to escape.
As the half drew to a close, Bury finally upped their work rate. The ball was kept for numerous plays, Ben Leng prominent twice with driving runs to take Bury close to the line. Kohler thought he had scored when he gathered his own kick through only for the referee strangely to bring the play back to give Bury a penalty! However The Wolfpack were not to be denied and Jack Harvey took the penalty quickly and burrowed his way over. Johnson’s fine kick into the strong cross wind sent the sides in at 8 – 7 to Dings.
HALF TIME DINGS 8 BURY 7
Nick Wakeley rang the changes at Half Time, Toby Hill coming on at Prop and Aaron Forrest replacing Johnson at Full Back and Mike Graham joining the engine room to allow Sam Bixby to move to hooker.
However it was Dings that started the half well and with Arscott pulling the strings it was not long before a penalty was earned that skipper Plummer duly despatched.
A knock on at the restart gave Bury the opportunity to attack from a scrum and Jack Harvey’s dummy saw him escape down the blind side. The Bury support was a little slow in arriving allowing the Dings defence just enough time to bundle Will Scholes into touch 2metres short.
The game was stopped for several minutes after a sickening collision between Dings right wing Josh Trinham and Bury’s Aaron Forrest. The Bury youngster took a long time to get to his feet after the clash and was taken straight to the changing rooms.
When the game restarted Dings took immediate advantage. A solid scrum 30metres out gave Arscott the space and time to send Smith on the outside of Kohler and in for a try by the posts.
Plummer comfortably converted and it was not long later that he landed his third penalty as an under the cosh Bury were forced to transgress. At this point it looked like Dings would run away with the game. They had a real head of steam, running onto the ball at pace and charging into collisions. Bury by contrast looked flat and laboured in their efforts. Some of that has to be credited to Dings defence, apart from table toppers The Rams, Dings have the best defence in the league.
Trailing 21 – 7 and with just over 10 minutes to go, Bury finally woke from their slumbers and went up a gear or two. They began to attack with a lot more verve and when Wiltshire made good ground having come over from the opposite wing, Ben Leng could finally escape the clutches of the Blue defence to burst clear. Ollie Walker was up in good support and had just enough speed and power to force his way over. Johnson converted and suddenly Bury sniffed the chance of a draw or possibly more.
For the final minutes of the match, Bury laid siege to the Dings line. Cam Ritchie twice made half breaks, and again Wiltshire and Leng looked dangerous, but Bury could not get over the line. A Dings player saw yellow for persistent offences and Bury had a series of penalties and scrums close to the Dings line.
It could be easily argued that another Dings player should have seen Yellow as they continued to concede penalties but in the cold light of day, Bury should have taken matters into their own hands and scored the equalising try. When it mattered most, Bury lacked the composure to unlock the Dings defence and having wasted several chances, it was ironic that as Grey was going over for the score, the referee spotted the Bury knock on a split second earlier.
FULL TIME DINGS 21 BURY 14
A frustrating day for The Wolfpack that made the long journey home with just a losing bonus point, but to be fair, although a draw was there for the taking, the performance over the whole 80 minutes probably did not deserve it.
Next Saturday Bury entertain promotion chasing Taunton in an eagerly awaited clash.