Bury St Edmunds’ Wolfpack brimming with confidence ahead of Taunton Titans’ test
PUBLISHED: 16:31 13 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32 13 January 2017
Bury St Edmunds, buoyed by their late rally to win at Worthing last weekend, are brimming with confidence ahead of Saturday’s tough home test against fourth-placed Taunton Titans in National League Two South (3pm kick-off).
Gavin Hogg’s men ended a sequence of four straight defeats with a 23-20 success at Worthing, thanks to two late tries, and that has given them some much-needed breathing space ahead of the lower reaches of the division.
The West Suffolk club are now eight points clear of the relegation zone.
The Wolfpack have won five of their nine matches at The Haberden, so Taunton will not have an easy ride this afternoon, despite being unbeaten in their last six matches, with four wins and (unusually) two draws.
The Somerset side were held to a 31-31 home draw by lowly Barnes last weekend.
“We had a change of game-plan at Worthing, and the most pleasing aspect was that the players bought into it,” explained Hogg yesterday.
“We played more conservative rugby, trying to play in the right areas of the pitch and not trying to force the play in our own half.
“Worthing then buckled under the pressure later on in the game, and we were able to take advantage with a couple of late tries to get the win.
“The players have taken a lot of confidence from that win. It has given them all a major boost, because we knew how important it was to start off the new year well, with some very big games for us coming up this month. We executed our plan, on paper, onto the pitch,” added Hogg.
After today, Bury have matches against teams below them in the league, at London Irish Wild Geese (12th) next weekend and then at home against Henley Hawks (11th) on January 28.
Taunton have won seven of their nine games on the road, but they only just pipped Bury by 30-26 on home turf last September, on an afternoon when the lead changed hands on six occasions.
Hogg continued: “Taunton are one of those top four sides who tend to win the close games, by taking their chances.
“We had four or five chances in the first half at Worthing, but only took one of these, and it’s likely that we wil only get four or five in the whole match against Taunton, so we have to take those chances.
“We’ve played them three times over the last two years, and they have always been close affairs. We have usually managed to score tries against them, and earlier in the season we only lost to the last play of the game, picking up two losing bonus points.
“Everyone expected them to beat Barnes at home last week, but they ended up only drawing, and hopefully we can catch them cold after their long bus journey.
“In the past, they have had the composure to close out games, and against them earlier in the season we lost our discipline a little, playing 50 minutes with 13 men after an early sending off,” added Hogg.
With regards team selection, Hogg revealed: “Mark Dolan will play at scrum-half, having come over from Ireland.
“Mark played for Ireland Under-20s a couple of years ago, and had played for the Buccaneers in the All-Ireland League.
“Recently, he has been playing his rugby for NUIG College (in Galway, Ireland). He has now completed his studies and has got the opportunity to come overseas to play his rugby,
“Ben Turner is unavailable, being on loan from Taunton, so he obviously can’t play against his parent club. Matt Edison comes back onto the replacement bench.
“Will Simpson is unavailable, so Sam Sterling will play in the centre and Shaq Meyers will be on the wing.”