Bees 36 Wharfedale 17
THE returning Simon Hunt fired Bees to victory to get 2012 off to the best possible start as the Damson Park outfit battles to beat relegation from National League One.
Hunt scored two tries, made the third and could have scored the a bonus point fourth had fly half Mark Woodrow seen him instead of kicking for the try line in the dying moments of the first half.
There’s no blame on Woodrow though who, returning from Stourbridge, turned in a faultless game with the boot, kicking five penalties and all three conversions to keep the scoreboard constantly ticking over in Bees’ favour.
Director of rugby Russell Earnshaw was naturally in celebratory mood following what in the end was an emphatic victory: “We had a number of key players back and I was confident of victory,” he said.
“We played a simple game which suited us and the result speaks for itself.
“Before Christmas it’s fair to say that some of the players had lost their mojo but we stuck to the game plan and have come off knowing we’ve enjoyed our rugby, and that’s what it is all about.”
Bees were helped in their task by a Wharfedale side which displayed appalling handling and gave away a catalogue of penalties.
In addition, despite scoring the try of the game, a beautiful cross field kick from fly half William Bell which went straight into the arms of winger Scott Jordan who beat three men to score, they persisted in keeping the ball among the forwards where Bees were stronger.
And, in a match which had its odd testy moment, their skipper and Number 8 Rob Baldwin contrived to get himself red carded for foul play on Earnshaw on 69 minutes.
Wharfedale gave their first kickable penalty away on five minutes, which Woodrow duly converted before England Sevens star Hunt, installed at full back, burst through the centre after 19 minutes to score. Woodrow converted.
The visitors then scored their wonder try but the conversion was missed and Woodrow popped over another penalty.
Wharfedale then closed to 13 – 12 when their second row Richard Brown waltzed throw through to score under the posts for a converted try. However it was the nearest they were to come.
Woodrow’s boot quickly made it 19-12 before Hunt scored his second, four minutes into first half injury time and again from set play, this time from a scrum. The No 10 naturally converted.
As the temperature plunged the second half was littered with errors by both sides, and just when it looked like it was about to fizzle out an inside pass from Hunt found centre Gregg Evans who burst through to score on 80 minutes.
Wharfedale weren’t done though, Jordan crossing again in the corner deep into injury time, the visitors finishing on the front foot as they too went in search of a fourth try bonus point.
However for Bees fans the victory was all that mattered, although with Cinderford beaing Blackheath 20-18 Birmingham Solihull sit 16 points from safety on 20 points at the foot of National League One.
Attention now switches to next week and the highly winnable fixture away at Stourbridge. The question is will Hunt, who gave Bees the pace, power and hunger for the try line their back division has lacked all season, be available?
“I don’t know,” he said, “I didn’t get much match time out in Dubai with England Sevens and with the break over Christmas you’ve got to keep your match fitness.
“They pick the England team the week after next so I don’t know if I’ll be available, it depends what they say.
“The great thing about playing for Bees though is that it doesn’t matter who scores the tries as long as we win because we all play for each other.
“Whichever way you look at it, it’s a great start to 2012.”