Driff take the spoils in round 1
Young Guns Fall Short at the End
Before a ball had been kicked to start the new season, in weighing up his side’s chances for the year, The Bees’ skipper, Tom Booth reckoned that the Wagon Lane outfit were perhaps four players short of having the strength in depth to compete at the top end of the division.
The recruitment process continues in the background for the Bees and there is hope that those three or four new faces are scheduled to turn out for the club in the coming weeks. However, for week one, the squad was stretched to its maximum as three players who would be expected to play the majority of games this season were declared unavailable – Sam White (recovering from an operation), Harry Jeffrey (work commitments) and Max Mountain (Holiday). The Bees called up a number of youngsters from their Development Squad to fill in these gaps and with no recognised second rowers available, travelled to Driffield with 5 back rower players packing down behind the front row. Things got worse for the visitors before kick off as player coach Ali Macdonald succumbed to an ankle injury in the warm up, forcing yet another re-shuffle and only two players on the bench.
Despite all these setbacks, it was the Bees who got on the scoreboard first as Michael Crotch put in a huge hit on a Driffield player running out of his twenty two, dislodging the ball with the powerful tackle. Debutant teenager Byron Finn reacted first to retrieve the loose ball, tucking the ball under his arm and heading towards the Driffield line. Finn handed off a desperate last tackle and was over the whitewash, four minutes into his first team debut. Lee Neha slotted the conversion and the pre-game selection nightmares appeared to be giving way to a dream start.
The visitors could only keep out the home side for the next ten minutes before Driffield were rewarded with a five pointer of their own. With the conversion missed the Bees were hanging on to a slender lead, but defending superbly.
The misfortune continued for the visitors in the 24th minute as debutant full back Chris Battye was forced off with a head injury. The Bees brought on another teenager to make his debut, as Dominic Walker entered the fray. Driffield should surely have capitalised on more of their chances, but the Bees held firm in the most part, with only penalties in the 26th and 40th minutes giving Driffield the half time lead. With the sides turning round separated by only four points, it seemed certain that if the Bees defensive line could hold and Driffield continued to under perform, Martin Whitcombe’s men might just sneak an unlikely win or at least return to Bingley with a bonus point. With 6 minutes of the half played there appeared to be a possible turning point as a Driffield player was sent to the cooler for ten minutes.
The Bees could not get over the whitewash, but as the ten minute period ended were awarded a kickable penalty which would have brought them within a point of their hosts. Unfortunately Neha missed with his shot at the sticks and it remained 11-7.
As the game entered the last quarter the Bees were still throwing everything into defensive duties and the home side never quite managed to create enough away from the centre of the field to threaten the Bees out wide. All that seemed to change, however, on the 69th Minute when Michael Crotch was sin binned and the Bees man of the match Tom Cummins was asked to shift from number 8 to prop. The loss of Crotch and equally the removal of Cummins from the back row just seemed to be the straw which broke the defensive will of the visitors. In the last eleven minutes of the contest the home side were able to gallop away from the Bees running in three unanswered scores, pushing the margin from 4 points to 21. The Bees must re-group for their first home fixture next week when they entertain Cleckheaton.