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Canterbury 29-25 Bury St Edmunds
Canterbury 29-25 Bury St Edmunds

Some victories are down to superior skills;  some, like this narrow one from Canterbury, can be built on determination, plus a player who was able to harness a buffeting wind.

The visitors may have won the try count by five to four but it was fly half Frank Reynolds, National 2 Easts’ leading points scorer, who made the difference in the end.

He teed up the win with three conversions, two of them from difficult angles, and a penalty goal while his Bury counterpart, Ben Penfold, was off target every time.

When the city side reached half time only seven points in front the odds seemed against them as a wind assisted Bury scored twice to go in front in the 56th minute. 

But Canterbury dug in, found fresh momentum in the final quarter, and produced two well worked tries for centre Will Waddington to regain the lead before fighting off Bury’s strong finish. 

It was the visitors who started the game on the front foot, too, finding gaps and sending full back Kodie Drury-Hawkins over for the opening try.

Canterbury survived an early yellow card for Will Hunt, got on the scoreboard with Reynolds’ penalty goal and made the most of a superb break by Cameron Murray.

When the flanker was stopped the ball was swiftly recycled for Alfie Orris to score at the corner. Reynolds converted and was on the mark again, this time from the opposite touchline, when a controlled driving maul brought the second try from prop Elliot Lusher. 

Before the break, however, fierce Bury pressure ended in a short range score by prop Ben Cooper and although Penfold missed an easy conversion their opening salvo in the second half spelled trouble for Canterbury’s chances.

The tries came first from Number Eight Matt Bursey and after the forwards  had done the heavy lifting the ball was spread wide for Penfold to make their fourth touchdown. 

It was now a test of the city side’s character and playing to their strengths they found a way. Waddngton’s tries came in the 62nd and 68th minutes and both had their roots in threatening catch and drives.

With the defenders sucked in, crucial space was opened and, together with some precise handling, Waddington did the rest. The second try gave Reynolds a straight forward conversion and the city side a nine-point advantage to protect. 

Bury’s final flourish, a try by wing by Harry Simpson, came three minutes from the end to earn his side a second bonus point but Canterbury gave them nothing more and pocketed all five.

Canterbury: W.Hilton (repl T.Best), G.Jones, F.Morgan, W.Waddington, A.Orris, F.Reynolds, P.Farrance (repl B.Cooper), C.Macmillan, N.Morris (repl D.Huntley), E.Lusher (repl D.Herriott), J.De Vries (repl S.Kerry), W.Hunt, C.Murray, E.O’Donoghue, J.Stephens.

Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.