Bees 49 v 27 Southend
A SOUTHEND side battling to avoid relegation gave Bees a much needed reality check ahead of next week’s crunch game against Cinderford.
And if the cheers rang out at the final whistle, they were cries of relief after the home side looked in danger of throwing away a season’s worth of work in an afternoon.
Player coach Russell Earnshaw admitted that he had to have ‘a few quiet words’ with the team as they lined up under posts following the try that put the visitors 27-20 ahead.
“It was plain that the guys who control the game for us were not steering the ship correctly,” he said. “I told them we couldn’t sacrifice the championship here and that they knew what had to be done.”
It was a much changed Bees outfit that took to the field as Earnshaw sought to rest key players ahead of the Cinderford clash.
But whether Bees were complacent after putting 80 points past Mounts Bay the previous week or the change in personnel, they started with their usual high tempo style replaced by a no tempo one.
Yet incredibly, thanks to some generous refereeing and a Rod Petty interception, they were 10-0 ahead after 15 minutes.
However it was Southend who were playing the rugby and their reward came after some sloppy passing from Bees allowed the visitors to pick up and send centre Mike Stanley through to score. Winger Andrew Frost converted, then added a penalty to draw level.
Bees, currently still in first gear, moved into second with another Petty score, Woodrow adding the extras, before adding a penalty just before half time. 20-10.
Game over? Back came Southend. The home scrum had been under pressure all afternoon and from another powerful drive the visitors moved the ball wide for centre Luke Sloan to score. The conversion was missed but four minutes later they scored again, Frost crossing after neat interplay from the visitors. Once again the conversion was missed.
With Bees reeling, six minutes later and sensing an upset, flanker Chris Green went over under the posts which this time Frost converted.
It was now that Earnshaw read the riot act and with some crucial substitutions – former skipper Matt Long coming on at loose head to shore up the scrum and Reece Spee at fullback to add some edge, Bees at last began to play.
Woodrow kicked a penalty then Petty got his hat trick after a trademark bullocking run from centre Cameron Mitchell. Woodrow converted.
Bees now moved up another gear, and the tries began to flow; first through winger Simon Hunt then Spee after a storming run by man of the match Chris Brightwell.
Division Two top try scorer Hunt finished off the match with a further score, and with Woodrow having his kicking boots on, Bees secured the win and the vital bonus point.
Next week they are away at Cinderford, kick off 2pm but without Earnshaw who will be on England Sevens duty in Hong Kong.