Jacob Ford pleased with character shown by Bury St Edmunds in their victory over Canterbury at the Greene King IPA Haberden
Bury St Edmunds head coach Jacob Ford stated that his side’s 33-14 victory at home to Canterbury showed a lot about their character as the hosts won a ‘scrappy’ contest to extend their unbeaten run in the National League 2 East to nine games.
The Wolfpack also maintained their undefeated home record at the Greene King IPA Haberden this season to move them up to third in the standings, as Ford’s side flew out the traps and penned the visitors in their own half from the off.
Skipper Matt Bursey and Ruaraidh Williams crossed the whitewash inside the first 15 minutes, with Benjamin Penfold converting the latter’s try.
After a quick response from the visitors, Bury made sure they went into the break deservedly in front through a brilliant solo effort from Archie Bourne before Penfold added the extras.
A disjointed stop-start second half saw Canterbury threaten the most but the hosts were clinical, as tries from Penfold and then Brayden Porteous meant Bury started 2024 in the best possible fashion.
“I’m happy with a good performance. It was a scrappy game with both teams coming back after the Christmas period. We had to use our bench smart, with players coming on and off, and we used eight substitutes today, so did the opposition,” said Ford on his side’s display.
“I was really happy that we reacted well to the mistakes that we made but hopefully we can be a little bit more accurate next week because that’s a big step forward.
“We always want to come out quick and we always want to come out and dictate the tempo of the game, so I’m pretty happy with that.
“I’m pretty surprised that we did it to be honest because I was expecting it to be a tight fist half but it probably built into that after 20 minutes.
“It was a bit of a surprise but happy with how we started.
“We like the ball in play. If we can keep the ball in play, we back our fitness and we back our skills. Of course we can get better and of course we can be a little bit more accurate at times but that suited us a little bit.
“I was really happy with the effort more than anything, in terms of when there was an error or there was knock on, then we were first to get back and first to get on the floor. That says a lot about our character which was good.”
Ford named four changes from the side that started their 45-5 victory away at North Walsham before the winter break as McCartney, Russell, Simpson, Meyers and Hall were all replaced by Loose, Strath, Hawkins, Williams and Kelland.
Bury started brightly as Will Attfield robbed Canterbury of possession and broke down the left, but he was thwarted by a last-ditch challenge as he approached the posts.
Bursey was then on hand to give the hosts the lead after just eight minutes with a try, but Penfold failed to add the extras.
And it was not long before the Wolfpack found themselves further ahead as Williams capped off a fine-flowing team move. The hosts looked to have found their rhythm.
Penfold this time able to convert to put Bury 12-0 to the good.
Canterbury did respond with their first meaningful attack of the game, which they capitalised, on as Nathan Morris managed to squeeze the ball over the line after a well-worked line-out.
Frank Reynolds was on hand to make the score 12-7 after 17 minutes.
Another good opportunity arose for Bury as George Loose found a gap to break into, with the crowd screaming for him to release the ball as he had options to his left and right. However, the outside center’s attack was quickly shut down as he was a denied a run to the try line.
But, Bury were not to be thwarted minutes later as Bourne weaved through four Canterbury bodies to cap off a fine move and extend the host’s advantage.
The final 10 minutes of the first half became quite scrappy and uneventful with Bury not being able to take advantage of a scrum near the try line.
Canterbury started the better of the two sides in the second half and Bury had to hold out resolutely to stop the visitors from coming back into the contest.
Harry Simpson, who replaced Attfield in the first half, provided a bright spark for the hosts as he went on a twisting run to get Bury out of trouble in a tight area on the left-hand side.
But Ford’s side carried their clinical nature into the second period and extended their advantage with their first chance after the break, as Penfold crossed the whitewash and converted his own try.
Canterbury threatened to make the contest interesting at the end when they showed great control to retain possession and bundle the ball over the try line, but any chances of a dramatic comeback were put to bed as Porteous bundled the ball home underneath the posts and Penfold’s conversion sealed Bury’s first win of the New Year.
“We haven’t played here since the middle of November as we’ve been away and had cancellations. This month now we’re here three times and we’re really looking forward to building our game model and dictating how the game’s played,” said Ford.
“You get the chance to do that at home with the crowd and with the lads not travelling. We’re looking forward to the run of games that we’ve got.
“We just want to make sure that we compete and compete better than the opposition on the day and we did that again today so I’m happy with that.”
Bury St Edmunds:15 Drury-Hawkins (50th cap), 14 Affleck, 13 Loose, 12 Kharbouch, 11 Attfield, 10 Penfold, 9 Christie, 1 Robinson, 2 Bourne, 3 Cooper, 4 Grigg-Pettitt, 5 Kelland, 6 Bursey (cpt), 7 Strath, 8 Williams.
Coaches Man of the Match: Samir Kharbouch