NATIONAL DIVISION 2
CLIFTON 18 BURY 14
As the referee blew to penalise Bury just inches from the try line and thus ending the match, Bury were left scratching their heads as to how they had not won this entertaining contest.
After a reasonably even first half that Clifton just about deserved to lead 15 – 7 at the break, Bury completely dominated the second half but could not convert possession into points!
The early morning start and Motorway traffic delays clearly had an effect on Bury as they were at sixes and sevens early on. Clifton seized on a Bury penalty to go through the phases and create the space for left wing Halpin to squeeze over after just 6 minutes. Barnes converted well form wide out to put Clifton 7 points to the good.
Bury responded well, chasing the deep kick off well to create a platform deep in the Clifton half. Harvey’s half break forced the hosts into conceding a penalty which Bury kicked into the corner. A series of close quarter drives were stopped just short before the ball was held up over the line….a sign of things to come!
Bury ought to have reduced the arrears on 15 minutes when further forward pressure earned them a penalty, but Lengs kick came back off the post.
Let of the hook, Clifton enjoyed a purple patch, forcing Bury into having to defend for long periods in their own half. White and Leng were prominent in shoring up the midfield but Clifton let themselves down by back chatting the referee resulting in a penalty decision being reversed.
Bury should have made the Lavender and Blacks pay! Meyers, Harvey and Hill combined well before Ben Cooper was held up inches short. However at the resulting 5m scrum, Bury were penalised for not hooking the ball.
Clifton never really cleared their lines and a strong run by Yas Browne, one of many, was quickly recycled left to the waiting Chris Lord. The Full back surged forwards, chipped over his opposite number and then won the race to touch down in the corner. Lengs fine conversion levelled the scores but the final 5 minutes of the half belonged to Clifton.
Having been penalised for not releasing in the tackle, which Barnes duly converted, Bury’s wayward kicking cost them once again! Instead of being in decent field position, Bury were forced to defend in their own 22 and with the last play of the half, they fell off too many tackles allowing Harrison to go over.
HALF TIME CLIFTON 15 BURY 7
What had gone before, suggested both sides had the capability to win the match, but the second half was pretty much one way traffic.
The Wolfpack had so many chances to win the game and yet contrived to mess things up.
Clifton knocked the Kick Off on and at the resulting scrum, were penalised as the Bury Front Row turned the screw. Bury declined a very kickable penalty instead electing to kick for the corner. Inexplicably touch was missed and Clifton escaped!
Another penalty kick at goal was declined minutes later after Bury had driven deep into the Clifton half. This time the kick did find touch but the resulting line out was deemed to be not straight.
It was all Bury now but still they continued to waste chances. Final passes were hurried or knocked on and somehow Clifton survived. The Bury scrum was in total control and once again a penalty allowed Bury to kick close to the hosts try line. This time the throw in was deemed to not have travelled 5m and another chance gone begging.
The Clifton defence held firm despite huge pressure and their speed off the line forced a knock on with Leeson having the line at his mercy. Once again Bury came back with a vengeance but a try was cancelled out for an alleged double movement.
The Wolfpack had nothing to show for 25 minutes of total dominance and inevitably when they were forced to defend they conceded a penalty for a high tackle. Barnes slotted the kick to extend Clifton’s lead out to 18 – 7.
A late tackle followed by a high tackle gave Bury the chance to reduce arrears but again the chance went begging. Undeterred Bury continued to swarm all over the hosts and finally were rewarded with 5 minutes to go.
Quick ball was passed right for Ollie Watson to break a tackle, he found the supporting Leeson who raced away towards the corner flag. Although he was hauled down inches short, substitute Alfie Garside was up in support to run round under the posts for a simple score which he converted himself.
5 minutes left to claim the victory their second half dominance deserved…
Time and time again Bury drove for the line. Clifton’s defence was becoming increasingly desperate and they lost a player to the sin bin for a culmination of penalties. With only seconds left on the clock it seemed Bury would snatch the victory. The Wolfpack drove for the line edging ever closer to the try line. Several players tried to force their way over but were repelled before Bury were penalised for driving into their own man as the ball was touched down between the posts!
FULL TIME CLIFTON 18 BURY 14
A losing bonus point was scant reward for Bury, but they had no one but themselves to blame for wasting a series of gilt edged chances. It was a sombre mood on the long journey home from Bristol.