BURY’S last match of the season against unbeaten table-toppers North Manchester represented a yardstick as to how far they have progressed under the management of Derek Heath, captain Jon Allen and South African coach Darren Hall.
The conditions were a major factor, a strong downfield wind was in favour of the visitors in the first period and with some astute line kicking from penalties, they used the resulting kicks to push Bury back into the left corner.
Taking nothing away from North Manchester, they play a somewhat physical game but do make good use of possession, scoring four tries in the half, all about the same area with only one converted.
Bury went to the turn 22 points in arrears but had the advantage of the wind in the second half.
They did not make as much use of the conditions as the opposition had but they gathered themselves after 20 minutes to put North Manchester under pressure.
Flank forward Chris Potts was stopped five metres from the line from broken play.
But he was eventually successful, crossing the line soon after, and his try was converted by stand off Lawrence Shedwick.
Bury could have scored two more tries, but the man in possession failed to use the overlap on both occasions, choosing to go by himself before being stopped short of the line.
However, from a set scrum, number 8 forward Ben Holland, who was by a long distance man of the match, picked up from the base of a set scrum and drove over in the corner for a try.
With five minutes remaining, it was not beyond the bounds of expectation that Bury might have won.
But the visitors were awarded a penalty and went for goal to convert to run the clock down.
Credit must go to both for what was a highly entertaining game, giving the spectators a final flourish to the season.
If Bury can maintain continuity and the coach and management team are together next season then promotion back to North Lancs Division One is a real possibility.
All that remains is for my to sign off on my final report. I submitted my first in the 1973/74 season and, having reported for all the senior sides and senior colts over the last 40 years.