Bees 36 v 40 Bristol
BEES came within a whisker of upsetting all the odds and beating hot promotion favourites Bristol in this error strewn but pulsating game.
The home side, missing eight of the first team squad through injury, a makeshift front row and a teenager and flanker in the backs, were on the canvas for the first 20 minutes but picked themselves up, stayed in touch through the boot of No10 Mark Woodrow and then gave the visitors the fright of their lives in the dying minutes of the game, winning a bonus point into the bargain.
Player coach Russell Earnshaw admitted to having read the riot act after last week’s dismal showing against Plymouth Albion and said he was delighted with the team’s performance.
“After last week there were some players who were talking the talk but not walking the walk. This week we really played with our hearts and although we conceded 40 points we can take away a lot from this match and our overall performance.”
“The game started disastrously for Bees; Earnshaw himself, fresh from his pre-match pep talk, dropped the ball from the kick off and within two minutes Bristol were ahead with a penalty from fly half Adrian Jarvis.
Minutes later Bristol No 8 Dan Montague scored a pushover try as the home scrum wilted. Worse followed with a penalty try for fly hacking the ball in the scrum and with 17 minutes gone it was 3-15 and fears of a cricket score were beginning to grow.
But Bees, pre-match nerves now gone, hung in with the back row of Chris Brightwell and Leo Halavatau to the fore. Penalties were exchanged and then in a fine piece of back play flanker-turned-centre Rob Connolly scored in the corner. Woodrow brilliantly converted and suddenly, at 13-18 Bristol knew the Bees meant business.
Classy centre Jack Adams put the visitors further ahead but the kick was missed and again Woodrow pegged them back with a penalty.
Bees battled on after the re-start; full back Reece Spee sprinting 75 yards to score, Woodrow again converting to make it 23-23 only for Bristol to reply through scrum half Jason Spice, but again the kick was missed.
Then came the big opportunity - a yellow card for the Bristol lock Mariano Sambucetti for repeatedly playing the ball off his feet - but it was Bristol who reacted first, Adams crossing on 55 minutes, the kick again missed.
But the boot of Woodrow kept Bees in the hunt, a futher penalty making it 29-33 before silky winger Dan Norton pushed the visitors to 38 points, the extras this time being added by Mark Davies.
However, the final flourish belonged to Bees, a brilliant try in the corner by winger Martin Will bringing the stand to its feet, Woodrow converting wit hthe last kick of the game.
Bees had battled well against the promotion favourites, but in the cold light of day they struggled to cross the gain line and will be looking to start on a moe positive note when they play London Welsh away next Saturday.