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Jacob Ford proud of Bury St Edmunds’ display in defeat to Dorking with ill-discipline proving costly in Ermenonville air disaster 50th anniversary fixture





Bury St Edmunds head coach Jacob Ford was far from downbeat as his side saw their lead slip late on to third-placed Dorking as the club remembered the Ermenonville air disaster victims 50 years on.

An emotionally-charged day at the Greene King IPA Haberden ultimately saw ill-discipline cost the hosts who paid the price for their over-jealous approach with a red card and four yellows leaving them exposed as they lost 33-29.

It was a sixth straight defeat for the Wolfpack which sees them drop a place to sixth in the National League 2 East table in a blow to their hopes of chasing down a club record fourth-placed finish, leaving them four points off Henley.

The Bury St Edmnunds players during the minute’s silence for the 1974 air crash victims Picture: Mecha Morton
The Bury St Edmnunds players during the minute’s silence for the 1974 air crash victims Picture: Mecha Morton

And they could be set to lose homegrown number 8 powerhouse Ruaraidh Williams for the final five matches after his moment of madness in the 49th minute saw him sent off for reacting with a headbutt.

But having seen some lacklustre displays from his side in their losing run, Ford was happy to look at the positives in their display which comes ahead of a trip to second-placed Barnes next weekend.

“"Much improved, it was like I was seeing the team we had previously,” he said.

Ruaraidh Williams scores a first-half try for Bury St Edmunds Picture: Mecha Morton
Ruaraidh Williams scores a first-half try for Bury St Edmunds Picture: Mecha Morton

“Our reactions to things that didn't go our way showed a positive approach.

"And I thought especially in the first half we injected some tempo in the game at key times and came out the right side of that in terms of the score.

"Then I think in the second things didn't quite go our way, decisions and obviously discipline was a bit of an issue and it let them back into the game.

"But in terms of our doggedness and our fight we had 12 or 13 men on the pitch, I thought that was excellent.

Bury players once again carried the names of the 18 air disaster victims on their 50th anniversary shirts Picture: Mecha Morton
Bury players once again carried the names of the 18 air disaster victims on their 50th anniversary shirts Picture: Mecha Morton

"We've got that back and we're going to need that in abundance for the rest of the season."

Ford made five changes from the 32-31 defeat at Worthing the weekend before last with Ben Cooper, Shaq Meyers, Samir Kharbouch, Levi Roper and Kodie Drury-Hawkins all returning to the side.

There was a new signing among the replacements in former Scotland Under-20 international Jed Gelderbloom, the scrum-half having been signed on loan from higher-league Cambridge.

Ben Penfold lands a tricky conversion as Bury scored one of three first-half tries Picture: Mecha Morton
Ben Penfold lands a tricky conversion as Bury scored one of three first-half tries Picture: Mecha Morton

The kick-off was delayed by an hour after the Dorking bus had been held up in traffic following an accident.

A stirring rendition of William Blake’s Jerusalem, led by the St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir took place ahead of an impeccably observed minute’s silence as the Haberden remembered the 18 club members who had lost their lives in the 1974 plane crash just outside Paris in Ermenonville Forest.

Bury players celebrate Ruaraidh Williams’ try Picture: Mecha Morton
Bury players celebrate Ruaraidh Williams’ try Picture: Mecha Morton

Ford had called for his side to deliver a proud performance on a big day for the club but they found themselves seven points behind just five minutes in when Harry Simpson conceded a penalty try and earned the first yellow card for his high tackle trying to stop Will Sanders in the right corner.

They could have been further punished on the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Williams’ high tackle and subsequent back chat saw Dorking kick to the left corner but the defence managed to hold them up before they missed a penalty kick.

Bury had the bumper home crowd roaring in the 22nd minute as a sweeping move from a second successive penalty saw the ball shipped to the left for Simpson to fly over. Despite the tight angle, Ben Penfold made the conversion.

Will Christie flies into a low tackle on Dorking’s Finn Osborne Picture: Mecha Morton
Will Christie flies into a low tackle on Dorking’s Finn Osborne Picture: Mecha Morton

The hosts began to pin Dorking in and took the lead just after the half-hour mark as, from the fourth phase following a deep lineout, George Loose found Kodie Drury-Hawkins who evaded the tackle after stepping in off the right wing to touch down. Penfold again made the tough kick count.

Meyers, just back from injury, limped out with another knee issue before Bury ended the half with a third try as Williams went over from close range after a tap penalty was recycled out of the ruck to the left corner with Penfold again landing the kick for 21-7.

Both sides lost a man to the bin for high tackles at the start of the second period with Ben Kelland soon following Dorking centre Henry Anscombe off.

Harry Simpson is embrace after his try drew Bury level at 7-7 in the first half Picture: Mecha Morton
Harry Simpson is embrace after his try drew Bury level at 7-7 in the first half Picture: Mecha Morton

And as Bury came under heavy pressure, things got a whole lost worse when Williams reacted at a penalty with a headbutt in the 49th minute.

Dorking exploited the numerical advantage within two minutes as Tobermory McRae ran in down the left following a five-metre scrum.

A couple of promising Bury moves were thwarted by knock-ons before Matt Bursey’s petulance, in throwing the ball away having just been warned about it by the referee, saw them reduced to 13 again.

Some brave defending kept the visitors at bay until the 71st minute when Ben Kelland conceded a penalty try for collapsing the maul from a lineout to earn a yellow which put Bury down to 12 and cut their lead to two points.

There was a bumper crowd at the Greene King IPA Haberden as the 1974 Ermenonville air disaster victims were remembered Picture: Mecha Morton
There was a bumper crowd at the Greene King IPA Haberden as the 1974 Ermenonville air disaster victims were remembered Picture: Mecha Morton

Penfold managed to increase it to five with a penalty from around 35 metres out but in the last play before Bursey returned, in the 75th minute, the visitors’ cut through the defence with a fine inside pass setting McRae through to touch down by the posts. This time Fraser Mosley made no mistake with the kick for a 26-24 lead.

And there was more pain for Bury three minutes later as swift hands saw the ball swept from right to left for Thomas Howe to release McRae for the left wing’s hat-trick with Mosley adding the extras.

The spirit from the hosts saw them come back strong though in search of a second losing bonus point for a fourth try.

Members of the Bury Minis section gave a guard of honor to the players as they entered the pitch Picture: Mecha Morton
Members of the Bury Minis section gave a guard of honor to the players as they entered the pitch Picture: Mecha Morton

Dorking replacement Harry Elbrow was shown a late red card before, in the last play, Bursey went over from his tap penalty after a high tackle on Simpson. Penfold saw his slight angled kick fail to land though to leave the hosts four points short in an enthralling encounter in front of a bumper crowd.

Ford said: “I think the performance the boys put in was definitely something to be proud of, especially in difficult and testing circumstances with being under pressure in the game and different situations thrown at you.

"I was watching that game and I was pretty happy with what I was seeing and just unfortunately we didn't come out on the right side of that result.”

Matt Bursey leads the Bury team out in their commeroative shirts Picture: Mecha Morton
Matt Bursey leads the Bury team out in their commeroative shirts Picture: Mecha Morton

Despite some staunch defensive work, he felt there was an inevitability that they would concede as Dorking kept pressing.

“We were hanging on in there fighting for each other and we got a couple of key turnovers but ultimately that dam was going to break, wasn't it? And they ended up scoring from it,” he said.

"To see the boys scrapping for each other and making sure we're fighting and competing on every play was really pleasing for me as a coach. But ultimately we can't allow ourselves to have 12 or 13 men on the pitch, so we need to have a good look at our discipline side of things."

The crowd watched an enthralling match play out on a poignant day for the home club Picture: Mecha Morton
The crowd watched an enthralling match play out on a poignant day for the home club Picture: Mecha Morton

However, he far from blamed the result on Williams’ rush of blood, saying: "There was a couple of things in the game in terms of us being ill-disciplined, it wasn't just that example, there were one or two others where we probably competed a bit too hard.

"I think we gave seven or eight penalties away in the first 15 minutes and then we got back on track a little bit but we just can't afford to keep giving the teams opportunities when we're actually in control and dictating certain elements of the game. It's definitely something we'll have to look at."

Bury St Edmunds captain Matt Bursey lays some flowers at the club’s memorial to the 1974 air disaster monument in the lunchtime remembrance service Picture: Mecha Morton
Bury St Edmunds captain Matt Bursey lays some flowers at the club’s memorial to the 1974 air disaster monument in the lunchtime remembrance service Picture: Mecha Morton

Bury St Edmunds: 15 Drury-Hawkins, 14 Roper, 13 Loose, 12 Kharbouch, 11 Simpson, 10 Penfold, 9 Christie, 1 Robinson, 2 Bourne, 3 Cooper, 4 Grigg-Pettitt, 5 Kelland, 6 Bursey (cpt), 7 Meyers, 8 Williams.

Replacements: 16 McCartney, 23 L Jeffery, 18 Porteous, 17 Tylerm 20 Gelderbloom.

Bury coaches’ Man of the Match: Ben Penfold.