Jacob Ford calls on Bury St Edmunds to ‘serve first’ to keep perfect home record intact by beating Barnes
Jacob Ford has called on his Bury St Edmunds side to ‘serve first’ as they look to keep their perfect home record intact tomorrow (3pm) by beating Barnes to make it successive victories against the now joint leaders.
The Wolfpack showed bags of character in Surrey last weekend to become the first side to beat Dorking this season in a 23-22 scoreline which saw them hanging on with 13 men.
They had to respond to going behind to two unconverted tries inside the opening 10 minutes before Ben Penfold’s penalty kick was followed by tries from George Loose and Will Attfield to lead 13-10 at the interval.
It became a war of attrition in the second half with no points in the opening 20 minutes until Bury eventually profited from Ben Kelland charging down a kick to run clear.
A Kodie Drury-Hawkins 40-metre drop goal added to the seven points for a 23-10 lead ahead of yellow cards for Will Affleck and Will Christie with the hosts eventually scoring two late tries, though crucially missing out on the last-gasp final conversion.
“We managed to fight and compete and find a way to win which I think is so important we did that,” said Ford, Bury’s director of rugby and head coach.
"We were under pressure for long periods in the game and we were defending on our line. At the end we went down to 13 men and held on and I just think that shows the character of the group."
A fourth straight win leaves the Wolfpack fifth in the National League 2 East table, nine points off the joint leaders and four points off third-placed Esher.
But Ford wants to see his side start fast against Barnes to avoid a big opportunity to close the gap further slipping away as they look to record a sixth straight home win this term.
He said: “We feel like we can play a bit more like ourselves when we play at home so I'm hoping that will be the case and that's the way it will develop.
"I think it is a great opportunity for us. The ball's in our court and we've just got to focus on ourselves and make sure we serve first."
He added: “We've got to be in it at half-time and in the last 20 minutes we'll hopefully still be in with a shout and I'd like to think if we can get things right and compete we'll have a chance of winning the game.
“But we can't afford to be having a slow start and letting the opposition gain a little bit of momentum and confidence in the game."
Barnes beat Bury in both games last season, with a 31-14 loss in Suffolk on March 25 following a 32-14 scoreline in the reverse fixture.
Ford, who has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from, said: "I think it will be very similar to the Dorking game, a game of small margins that will be very physical and very tense.
"They have fantastic elements of their game including a brilliant set piece, so we are going to be under pressure but if we have the same willingness to fight and compete for each other (as at Dorking) then we'd like to think we have a chance in the game.”
Barnes have won their last five since a 31-29 home loss to Dorking.