WESCTLIFF produced an improved performance but still suffered defeat in National Two South on Saturday, losing 19-7 to Bury St Edmunds at the Gables.

A trio of Greg Bannister penalties put Westcliff 9-0 in front.

But the hosts were unable to record their first victory of the season, to leave coach Rick Compton with mixed emotions. 

"We were significantly more competitive and less porous in defence which is encouraging but frustratingly the game was there to be won and it slipped away," said Compton.

"The result hinged on the two yellow cards both of which were immediately followed by scores for Bury.

"That and the failure to take some hard-earned opportunities in each half were the difference.

"Nevertheless, it was a performance to build on as the first half of the season plays out in the next couple of weeks."

Conditions were appalling at the weekend but Westcliff started on the front foot with the wind at their back and camped in the Bury half.

The visitors were forced into a change in their midfield and were hard pushed to resist the early pressure.

Two penalties conceded in the first 10 minutes were converted into six points by the boot of Bannister.

Westcliff continued to push and pressured the visitors line patiently but failed to convert the opportunities into tries.

Bannister did add a further three points around the half hour mark, but the visitors forced their way deep into Westcliff territory as the half drew to a close.

The hosts conceded a series of penalties and ultimately a yellow card for number eight Smith which was immediately followed by a try driven over from short range as Bury made their numerical advantage count.

The successful conversion was the last action of the half which closed with Westcliff holding a narrow two-point lead at 9-7.

Bury now enjoyed the benefit of the wind which seemed to blow even harder but were unable to turn it into points in the opening 20 minutes.

However, the breakthrough did arrive for them just after the hour mark.

Desperate defence once more overstepped the mark in the referee's view and a second yellow card for the hosts once more reduced them to 14.

Again the visitors pounded the line and although repelled the referee adjudged illegally so and awarded a penalty try.

Westcliff were now behind for the first time in the game at 14-9.

They went back on the offensive despite their short numbers and laid siege to the Bury line for several minutes and the outcome remained in the balance until the very last.

However the breakthrough never came and with the games final act a penalty from visiting full back Reed denied them a losing bonus point.

Westcliff remain bottom of the table with 12 successive defeats. 

Westcliff: Bannister, Harvey, R Smith, Whiting, Hogarth, Sexton, Morrant, Brown, Lynch, Binneman, Anderson-Brown, Scogings, Dane, Johnson, J Smith REP Comber, O’Brien, Maloney, Nicholls, Dellas