Disastrous opening sees Bury St Edmunds ended pointless from trip to Worthing Rugby Club
Bury St Edmunds were left rueing a disastrous opening 20 minutes as they lost their opening National League 2 South away match 29-21 to Worthing on the south coast on Saturday, writes Simon Lord.
In an error strewn performance, the Suffolk visitors – who had been looking to build upon an impressive opening home win against Canterbury – conceded 19 points without reply, a margin that would prove too much to overhaul.
Worthing, celebrating their centenary fixture, took to the field clearly pumped up by the boisterous crowd and it did not take them long to open their account against a seemingly passive Bury side.
Having lost two attacking lineouts Bury were forced to defend a scrum on half way. Although the Worthing scrum creaked, No8 Kemp Price got the ball away to set his backs away. A simple mis-move in midfield drew in the defence and centre Jack Forrest easily won the race to his kick ahead.
Matt McLean added the extras and six minutes later he was converting his own try. Once more a seemingly innocuous attack on half way saw Forrest ghost through a gap, fix the final defender and send McLean in by the posts.
Bury could not get their hands on the ball and their desperation led to another penalty being conceded. From an attacking lineout just inside the 22, Bury once again fell off tackles to this time let full-back Connor Slevin score out wide.
It completed 19 points in as many minutes.
Worthing were dominating the breakdowns as they committed to them both in attack and defence, whilst Bury’s cause was not helped by a continuing malfunctioning lineout.
Head coach Jacob Ford had seen enough and rang the changes with Fin McCartney, Chirs Bolton and George Grigg-Pettit being thrown into the fray.
The changes had the desired effect as Bury finally awoke from their slumbers.
Worthing’s Jack Lee was shown a yellow card for tripping debutant Ben Penfold and Bury used the advantage to open their account after 30 minutes. Finally a lineout was won and recycled infield.
Samir Kharbouch and then Ben Cooper drove Bury up to the line before Shaq Meyers squirmed his way over from close range.
Maclean landed a penalty to stretch Worthing out to 22 points to seven but Bury twice had chances to reduce that lead before the break but were undone again by lineout failures.
Bury had to improve markedly if they were to entertain thoughts of repeating last week's comeback victory, and the early signs did not look good.
Again, a five metre lineout was lost and then a series of penalties resulted in Yas Browne being shown a yellow card.
However, fantastic tryline defence was turned into attack and Bury slowly worked their way down field for Meyers to make it a brace of tries. The back rower cut a great angle to break the first line of defence, before then having the power to hold off three more defenders to dive under the pots. Penfold converted to make it 22-14.
The hard work was immediately undone though. The Wolfpack made a hash of the restart, a charged down kick ultimately resulted in conceding a 5m scrum. The initial thrusts from the Raiders were repelled but eventually the ball was worked to Harrison Simms who broke through a tackle to score. Man-of-the-match Maclean added the extras and the lead went back out to 29-14.
Despite the setback it was Bury who were now the dominant force. Bolton was proving a real livewire at scrum-half and from his quickly taken penalty, Bury scored their third try. His half break was taken on by first Kharbouch and then Ruaraidh Williams to create the space for Mike Stanway to dive in by the corner flag. Penfold’s superb touchline conversion brought Bury back to within just eight points with 12 minutes remaining.
The boisterous crowd was no more, but when calm heads were required it was Bury whose discipline deserted them.
Despite Worthing losing another player to the bin, a series of errors and mistakes allowed Worthing to take the sting out of the game and slowly run the clock down.
Bury huffed and puffed but Worthing kept them at arms length and fittingly the game ended with Bury trying one last time to run the ball from deep only to knock the ball forward to huge cheers from the relieved crowd.
It could be argued that Bury’s display from the 20th minute onwards deserved at least the reward of a losing bonus point possibly even two. However, if you fall 19 points behind in National League Rugby then you get what you deserve.