AN heroic defence by 14 man Bees saw them pull off an astonishing victory against the Cornish All Blacks.
Under the cosh for the last 15 minutes following the red carding of second row Alex Davidson in a must win match,
the home team dug deep to deny the visitors who spurned countless kicks at goal in their quest to bury Bees with
Skipper Rob Connolly hailed the team spirit which had been so lacking in last week's shock defeat at Wharfdale.
"If we had lost today promotion would have been pretty much out of reach, it would have been too much of a hill to
climb" he said. "But if you lose a man everyone automatically gives an extra ten per cent and we just dug in and
went back to basics and did them well."
Indeed it could be argued that Davidson's sending off, on 65 minutes for use of the boot as the All Blacks pounded
the Bees line, was just what the Sharmans Cross Road outfit needed to galvanise them back into action after they'd
let a 23-9 lead slip to 23-19.
And if their drive for promotion is to be sustained the Bees are going to have to stay on the boil for the full 80
minutes, a problem Connolly is aware of.
"Not many teams can live with us when we play our normal expansive game," said Connolly, "however when we get ahead
we do have a problem with taking our foot off the pedal and it's something we have to address."
Bees had started brightly enough, fly half Mark Woodrow ending an extended period of aerial ping pong with a sharp
passing moving that saw the Launceston full back Jon Fabian bottle tackling No8 Jim Jenner who scored in the corner.
The visitors replied with a penalty from Fabian, and, with them starting to dominate possession, they made in-roads
into the Bees.
However, with only their second visitor to the Launceston half, Woodrow converted a penalty on 21 minutes.
Launceston replied through fly half Adam Staniforth before Bees again hit back.
Woodrow, who was at the heart of all the Bees best moves, set winger Mitchell Culpin off on a run deep into the
visitors' 22. From the resulting ruck Launceston were off side and Woodrow, taking a quick tap penalty, fed full
back Reece Spee who scored under the posts on 39 minutes. The fly half added the extras.Once again though Bees eased
off, a sliced kick from Woodrow led to an offside and Staniforth made it 15-9 at half time.
If Bees had had only bursts of brilliance in the first half they came out much more positive in the second. The
passing was crisper, the runs more direct and after just 90 seconds a cross field grubber kick from Woodrow found
Culpin out on the wing who went over and scored. Woodrow converted from wide out and Bees looked fair to go hunting
for more tries and an important bonus point.
Instead they let Launceston back in the match. The visitors rang the changes on the subs bench as Bees started to
lose direction. They paid the price when, after sloppily letting the All Blacks in their 22 a Woodrow clearance kick
was charged down. From the resulting scrum and drive replacement lock Scott Hobson scored. Staniforth converted to
make it 23-16 after 60 minutes.
Launceston now looked in the ascendancy and added another three points through Staniforth.
Bees were on the rack and looked bereft of ideas when Davidson's boot played its fateful part.
However the visitors ignored the obvious three points option and instead chose to batter the Bees line. With full
back Spee in at flanker to add some bulk to the home pack, Bees survived three massive scrums before the siege was
Back came Launceston, but as Bees infringed in their effort to keep them out the visitors again and again spurned
the three points in their search for five.
It had to end and end it did when, from a Bees scrum deep inside their own 22 Jenner picked up and drove into the
men in pink. The ball was fed back to Woodrow who booted it clear down field and into touch.
It was to be the visitor's last visit into the home side's half and Bees ran out winners of a famous victory.
Moment of the match? Inside centre Cameron Mitchell chasing down Launceston winger Marc Dibble after he snatched an
interception as Bees pressed the pink line. The speed merchant had ran three quarters of the pitch but was no match
for the Bees's crash ball specialist.