Published: 09:07, 02 May 2022
| Updated: 11:50, 02 May 2022
By David Haigh
Canterbury's biggest crowd of the season were treated to a feast of 10 tries, but the hosts came up just short in a final-day, last-minute 34-31 National League 2 South defeat to Bury St Edmunds.
Charlie Reed's penalty sealed an important victory for Bury as it gave them a top-six finish and after building a 14-point lead in the second half their job seemed almost done. But Canterbury, who had lost their earlier intensity, rediscovered it to dominate the final 15 minutes and draw level with two exhilarating tries.
To then concede that late penalty was a frustrating own goal, leaving them with two league points instead of three from a draw their efforts probably deserved.
The game was alive from the off with Canterbury taking an early lead through a catch-and-drive try from Billy Young and Bury hitting back quickly when Ruraidh Williams' break made a try for Matt Bursey. From then on it was nip and tuck until half-time. Lovely footwork from Reed set up the first of Bury wing Ross Taylor's three touchdowns, Alex Evans rewarded more close-range work by the city pack and hooker Fin McCartney claimed Bury's third try to edge his side ahead again.
Canterbury clawed it back in the closing minute of the half, Young again finishing an organised driving maul. Reed's two conversions against one by Will Hilton saw Bury two points in front at the break and everything nicely poised.
However, one of Canterbury's regular failings has been a drop in concentration in the third quarter and it surfaced again. Bury's fast-moving wide game exposed them and Taylor completed his hat-trick in the space of three minutes - the first following a fine break by scrum-half Chris Bolton and then capitalising on good work by fellow wing Ciarian Leeson.
Inspiration for the fightback came from replacement scrum-half Tom Williams, who spotted space on the blindside and outpaced the Bury defence in a searing 70-metre run. Hilton converted and was left a much easier kick when clever footwork by fly-half Frank Reynolds took him over between the posts to bring everything level with 10 minutes remaining.
Canterbury seemed to have the momentum but paid the penalty for hanging onto the ball at a ruck and Reed cooly slotted the winner with the last kick of a brilliant match.
Canterbury: W Hilton, G Hilton, Morgan (Heads), Reynolds, B Cooper (T Williams), A Cooper, Young, Lusher (Herriott), De Vries (Cadman), Stephens, Evans (Churchyard), King, Oliver.