Bury St Edmunds seeking to record first National League 2 South away win of the season at head coach Jacob Ford's former club Westcliff
Jacob Ford takes his Bury St Edmunds side to his former club Westcliff tomorrow (2.15pm) looking to bounce back from seeing their winning run at home halted by Clifton.
On paper it looks to be the perfect chance to finally bring up their first away victory of the season and at a crucial time, having slipped to 10th with the 33-25 defeat on Saturday.
But despite their Southend-based opponents having only one solitary point on the National League 2 South table after 11 straight defeats, the Wolfpack chief will be warning against underestimating them.
“Westcliff are still a dangerous team,” said Bury’s head coach and director of rugby. “I have watched a couple of games back and when they get players back to pick from they are certainly competitive and they showed that earlier in the season.
“We’ve got to expect anything going down there and we will need to be the best version of ourselves to ensure we get the result we want.
“We have been talking about getting results away and performances but for me it is about getting to an 80-minute performance and getting better and better to achieve that.”
It will be the first time Ford has returned to the Essex club since leaving for Bury in March. But he is looking to not let the emotion of the occasion unsettle him from the job in hand.
“I’m looking forward to going back down and seeing what are very good people and a very good club,” he said.
“There will be a bit of emotion there and the challenge will be to stay focused on ourselves and I am looking forward to making sure we are the best we can be.”
Saturday’s defeat, a first in his six games at the Greene King IPA Haberden, came about having seen their opponents use their physicality that was warned about pre match to good effect.
Clifton raced into a 14-point lead within 11 minutes with Bury’s first score not arriving until Chris Bolton finished off Matt Bursey’s barnstorming run just after the half-an-hour mark.
Skipper Bursey scored himself following a Clifton penalty to see the score 17-14 in the visitors’ favour at half-time.
A Charlie Reed penalty and a try by Ben Penfold got Bury into a two-point lead but a great 40-metre solo try from Andrew Simmers then turned the game back in Clifton’s favour.
A couple of penalties extended the lead before Bury’s own kick got them to within five to set up a grandstand finish. But Luke Cozens sent another over to deny Bury the solace of a losing bonus point on St Edmunds Day.
Ford said: “Obviously it was a disappointing result and you end up reflecting that we could have performed a lot better as a team.
“We gave away 16 penalties and did not really give ourselves a chance to impose ourselves on the game.
“But you have to look at the bigger picture which is that we’re on a journey. The learnings from the game are part of our development as a team but it is going to happen and we’ve just got to keep getting better and better, but it will take time.”
Wingers Levi-Jack Roper (knee) and Mike Stanway (ankle) are both available for selection. Roper comes back into the fold off the back of captaining the Army Under-23s’ side to the Inter Service Championship.