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Bury St Edmunds driven by data as they rack up fifth win in a row



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Jacob Ford has revealed his data-driven challenges are behind his Bury St Edmunds team continuing to impress as their winning streak extended to five in National League 2 South with the 27-21 success over Leicester Lions.

Last weekend’s home victory reduced the gap to their latest vanquished opponents to just two points, though the east Midlands outfit do hold a game in hand.

But it was the manner in which it was carried out that most pleased their dual director of rugby and head coach.

Semir Kharbouch was among the try scorers for Bury against Leicester. Picture: Richard Marsham
Semir Kharbouch was among the try scorers for Bury against Leicester. Picture: Richard Marsham

Ford said: “I think from the Old Albanian week to the Leicester Lions week we definitely showed improvement in terms of what we wanted to get out of the game.

“We actually set some targets and measurables in terms of stats that we wanted to improve on and we hit those.”

He revealed those centred around several areas of the pitch, but included: how many positive tackles they made and how many times they got a second man in the tackle.

Cam Greenhall looks to get Bury on the front foot against Leicester Lions. Picture: Richard Marsham
Cam Greenhall looks to get Bury on the front foot against Leicester Lions. Picture: Richard Marsham

“That really drives our aggression on the ball when we do not have it,” he explained. “And making sure we win the race to everything really by how many firsts we set in every asset of the game.”

While the data was ultimately how they were measured, it was also evident in the characteristics of the performance as the game unfolded.

“We had to show courage. We started well, we were in control in the first half,” said Ford, whose side scored converted tries from Toby Hill and Rob Conquest in the opening half-an-hour.

“One mistake from us in terms of not coming out of our half as efficiently as we wanted to basically led to seven points at the end of the half.

Toby Hill goes over for Bury last weekend. Picture: Richard Marsham
Toby Hill goes over for Bury last weekend. Picture: Richard Marsham

“So instead of being 14-0 up and in control, 14-7 is a bit of a different team talk.”

Early in the second half Yasin Browne’s barnstorming run was finished off by captain Matt Bursey, though Charlie Reed’s kick did not make it on this occasion.

But the Lions clawed their way back into it with another catch-and-drive converted try before taking the lead for the first time, 21-19, after a smart pass opened Bury up in the wake of Browne’s sin-bin.

Player-coach Ben Cooper was also shown a yellow card to leave the Wolfpack with 13 men with less than 15 minutes to play.

Ollie Watson makes his way through a Leicester tackle. Picture: Richard Marsham
Ollie Watson makes his way through a Leicester tackle. Picture: Richard Marsham

But once Browne had returned they used a lineout to roll a maul over for the fourth bonus-point try, again unconverted, to regain the lead.

A 35-metre penalty from Reed then ensured a six-point winning margin.

Ford continued: “We started the second half really well, like we talked about, then again one mistake of not coming out of our own half led to pressure, penalties, yellow cards and ultimately there was a strong period in the game for Leicester.

“The bit that really impressed me was that we found a way to come back from that, especially in that last 10-15 minutes where we dominated areas again.

“It showed our fitness levels, work-rate and willingness to win. It was excellent and something we are going to need each week.”

Tomorrow sees his seventh-placed side travel to Richmond-on-Thames to face a 10th-placed Barnes side who have often got the better of them on their own patch.

“It’s a bit of a bogey team for Bury going there but that doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Ford.

“We have a new squad, a new way of doing things.

“The challenge this week is trying to take it up another level in terms of consistency in the way we perform.

“Hopefully we can show the same desire which we have been showing recently and certainly last week.”

He has the luxury of looking set to put the same team out and hopes mixing up their preparations with a ‘deload week’, which included a visit All Saints Hotel’s Health Hub Spa, can help keep the winning run going.