Bees 24-16 West Hartlepool
Bees win but its not a classic.
A third five point win on the bounce for The Bees lifts the Wagon Lane side into eighth place in the division, almost equidistant from the relegation zone and the play off spot. This third win shows Martin Whitcombe's men to be one of the form sides in the table as only high flying Penrith, West Leeds and Alnwick have also won their last three outings.
The Bees have further chances to keep climbing the table in the coming weeks as they face Huddersfield YMCA, Malton and Norton and Percy Park in their next three fixtures, all sides that are in a similar position to the Bees, looking to scramble clear of the relegation trap door and consolidate a mid table position.
The five point win is all that really matters once the final whistle has blown, but this performance was far from a thing of beauty and is not a game that anyone who watched it will remember in any detail. There were few players who managed to do anything that stood out from a generally lacklustre display and although there was plenty of effort across the Bees side, it was a game full of perspiration and little inspiration.
West Hartlepool's Committee had been playing up how poor their side might be due to a general lack of players, but across the eighty minutes, the visitors showed as much as the home side and will feel unlucky not to have come away from West Yorkshire without at least a losing bonus point.
Wests took the lead with an early penalty on 6 minutes and the game settled into a familiar pattern of the Bees dominating up front and then somehow making a hash of anything they tried away from the pack. With two eighteen year olds in the number 6 and 7 shirt, there may have been a worry that the Bees back row may have been a bit light, but Louis Fraser always seemed to wriggle over the gain line when he touched the ball and Will Broadbent, making his debut, tackled everything that came his way. Tom Cummins stuck to the task of bashing the ball into contact, but despite the hard yards being won in the pack, nothing seemed to click further out. with Inoke Finau and Dennis Touffour rarely getting a chance to run at the Wests defence from the centres.
On 25 minutes, the Bees were finally able to get their side of the scoreboard going as a comedy of errors in the bottom left hand corner saw Benny Greaves neat kick to the corner being completely missed by the Wests fullback as he slid across to push the ball into touch. The ball bobbled up nicely to James Morton who arm wrestled a first defender out of the way then dived over the prone full back to score.
10 minutes later, the Bees were on the scoreboard again. This time through the force of their pack. The Bees eight had the Wests forwards going backwards at a rate of knots and when a player tried to scoop the ball out of the reversing scrum, the referee had to award the penalty try. There followed another interesting moment as the visiting players then lined up under the sticks for the conversion, but under new regulations, a penalty try is automatically seven points, so no kick is necessary. Only the referee seemed aware of this new change, but after a brief update, the players were appraised of the situation and the game was restarted.
That was the final score of the half and it was 12 points to 3 to the home side as we got underway for the second period. The Bees were soon able to extend their advantage as Tom Cummins barged over from a turned over scrum. At 17 3, and with the pack winning a lot of ball, there was the odd flicker of hope that the Bees might start to click in the backs. Tuffour had a couple of charges from deep, Morton came off his wing to have a go up the middle, but with passes going behind or over their target nothing really came to much.
Wests suddenly had a bit of a purple patch and between the 47th and 64th minute ran in two scores and collected a penalty to pin the Bees back to 17 16. Although the game was tight, Wests never really looked likely to push on from that good period and the Bees were again able to establish an upper hand. However, with the sides only separated by a single point, there was always a chance that a single mistake by the home defence of a sudden burst out by the Wests backline could have the Bees in trouble.
With the game being largely played in the visitors 22, the Bees kept plugging away at the defensive wall and finally a moment of pace and power from Tuffour saw the centre over the line under the posts, collecting his second score in as many games for the Bees. Morton slotted the conversion and the Bees were 8 points clear with only 4 minutes of the game to see out.