Former Exeter Chiefs points machine Gary Kingdom takes game out of Bury St Edmunds' reach at leaders Taunton Titans
The prolific Gary Kingdom scored all of Taunton’s points as the National League 2 South leader saw off a spirited visiting Bury St Edmunds side 22-15, writes Simon Lord.
In a break from tradition The Wolfpack elected not to make the trip to Somerset the night before the game, instead it was a 6.30am start for the visitors. Therefore it was a tired and frustrated side that returned home late feeling a victory had eluded them.
This is Bury’s sixth season playing Taunton and despite many close affairs, they are still to taste victory.
On many occasions their nemesis has been the boot of Kingdom and Saturday was no different, as the former Premiership player, who made 121 appearances for Exeter Chiefs (304 points), scored a try, a conversion and five penalties.
In fact, had an injury-time penalty not come back off a post Bury would have returned empty-handed. As it was they deservedly earned a losing bonus point for their efforts.
In another first for the club, the game was streamed live back to Bury allowing those unable to make the long journey west the chance to see the game after all.Those watching would have witnessed a scrappy game where the conditions did not really allow for an open flowing game.
Bury actually out scored the hosts two tries to one, but a heavy pitch and wet conditions made the game a war of attrition which in the end Taunton just about deserved to edge.
An early penalty by Kodie Hawkins for a clumsy challenge on Yas Browne opened the scoring. But Bury’s superiority in the set piece was not capitalised on and 20 minutes in Kingdom landed his first penalty to level the scores before adding another late on in the half to send Taunton into the break 6-3 up.
It had been a cagey half with neither side really able to gain ascendancy, although Bury will have felt slightly aggrieved that they did not get the rub of the green in some of the penalty decisions.
It was not the greatest of starts to the second half for Bury as Dan Walshe was shown a yellow for a late challenge on Kingdom. The fly half calmly got to his feet and kicked the hosts further ahead.
However, despite being down a man, Bury continued to battle and a long kick down field was chased well to put the hosts under pressure.
Taunton struggled to clear and Bury quickly worked the ball left for Mike Stanway to slide over. Hawkins was unfortunate to see his conversion come back off the upright.
At 9-8 it was still anyone’s game, but Taunton enjoyed a period of possession, forcing Bury on to the back foot.
An inevitable penalty followed for an infringement which Kingdom converted before Bury had the chance to get back on terms before fluffing a line out in an attacking position.
Offside once more allowed Kingdom to nudge the hosts out to a 15-8 lead and then with just over five minutes to go he helped himself to a converted try.
Bury’s lineout, which had been pretty solid in the first half, was under increasing pressure in the second and a turnover inside their own 22 allowed the veteran fly half in for a rare try.
The conversion appeared to have made the game safe but Bury responded magnificently.
A penalty was kicked deep and after the Bury forwards had turned the screw, substitute Alfie Garside scorched in for Bury’s second try. Hawkins’ excellent touchline conversion brought the gap down to just one score with only seconds remaining.
Bury had nothing to lose and were forced to try and run everything in a desperate attempt for a draw.
Almost inevitably, they were penalised for going off their feet at a ruck giving Kingdom the chance to inflict more pain. Fortunately his attempt from the right flank hit the post and Bury could at least salvage a bonus point from a game that on another day might have seen them win.
Bury host the side directly below them in the table, ninth-placed Worth Raiders also having 31 points but having played a game more, at the Greene King IPA Haberden on Saturday (3pm).