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, 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 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.
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.
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 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 with the last kick of the game.