BURY ST EMUNDS 13 CANTERBURY 14
Most games are decided on attacking skills, power and accuracy, occssionally on a slice of luck and others, like this one, on a monumental defensive effort from a Canterbury side whose reputation has taken a battering in recent weeks.
Not only did they repel almost everything Bury could throw at them but nine minutes from the end took the lead for the first time when Dan Smart’s try was converted from close to the touchline by Tom Best. It left a Bury team which had monopolised possession and territory for long periods still looking in vain for a way through the city wall.
What gave this victory added spice for Head Coach Andy Pratt was the work of an injury ravaged back division which meant fielding two young debutant wings in Piers Richardson and Max Howard and centre Frankie Morgan making a first full start. All three can look back with satisfaction on their contributions.
On the debit sheet, Canterbury piled pressure on themselves by not looking after the ball well enough in contact and failing to take the simple option when it came to clearing their lines.
But they compensated for the blemishes by defensive grit and organisation and the ability to take important chances. Nowhere was this better illustrated than in a first half where Bury built an early eight point lead through a try from Matt Edison, after a rare missed tackle, and a penalty goal from Donovan O’Grady.
It was half an hour before Canterbury took time off from defensive duties to find a reply when Max Cantwell and Hugh McCormick Houston, members of a highly effective back row, combined to rip Bury open. Hooker Sam Rogers finished off with the try at a close quarter ruck and left Best a straightforward conversion.
The last ten minutes of the half was probably the defining spell of the match. The home side stretched the city men on every front, through their sharp back line or the strength of their pick and go forwards but could not break them down.
There was more to come in the second half but by this time Canterbury were showing a touch more composure, disrupting Bury’s lineout and working ferociously at the breakdown.
They were still their own enemies in some areas and that allowed Bury to build pressure and grab a second try. From a driving maul they worked a blind side gap for wing Steve Snelling but O’Grady, importantly, failed to add the goal points..
Canterbury’s response was quick and effective. A penalty award set up a catch and drive position and the maul rolled effectively to give Smart the opening for his try. It was a difficult kick but Best obliged to snatch the lead. Bury, paying for a lack of variety in their attacks, threatened to the end but the city side had their measure and a turnover ball won at the death sealed this hardest of heard earned wins.
Canterbury: C,Kingsman, P.Richardson, F.Morgan (repl J.Dowkes), W,Farris (repl J.Jones), M.Howard, T.Best, D.Smart, A.Cooper, S.Rogers, S.Kenny (repl J.Green), R,Cadman, G.Edwards (repl C.Townley), G.Micans, H.McCormick-Houston, M.Cantwell (repl L.Woodbridge)
|W||22 Apr||Bury St. Edmunds||14-13|
|L||25 Feb||Bishop's Stortford||30-46|
|W||11 Feb||London Irish WG||21-17|
|L||4 Feb||Taunton Titans||5-30|
|D||21 Jan||Bishop's Stortford||0-0|
|L||17 Dec||Old Elthamians||14-18|
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