Dinnington 20-28 Bees
Win is just what we needed
A much improved Bees performance saw the Wagon Lane side win away from home and move to tenth in the division, three points above the relegation trap door but now 6 points clear of their fellow strugglers, Dinnington, in the bottom five of North One East. Unfortunately, West Hartlepool claimed a superb victory over table toppers, Morpeth, to keep the battle to break away from the relegation zone just as tight, with the Hartlepool side only one point behind the Bees and Malton and Norton only one point above. Martin Whitcombe's men do have a chance to break further away from Wests next Saturday when bottom club, Northern, come to Bingley and West Hartlepool have to travel to Penrith who are undefeated at home this season.
The Bees have started most recent games very poorly and taken perhaps 20 minutes to get into their stride. There was no apparent sluggishness to their start in this game as the first try was on the board within the opening two minutes. Andy Walker, who had his best game since coming across from Rugby League gathered a clearance kick in his own half and set off on a bullocking run straight to the heart of the Dinnington defence. Walker blasted through two or three tackles and was suddenly almost clean through on the Dinnington 22. The ball was smuggled away to the supporting Ali MacDonald, who followed suit with his own charge up the middle. Despite the close attentions of two or three home defenders, the Bees' coach, making his first appearance of the season had the strength to make the whitewash. Tanner Lighfoot slotted the conversion and the Bees were off to the best possible start.
Dinnington quickly regrouped and were soon bumping and barging their way up field, with a number of their tight forwards looking dangerous bouncing off the side of the rucks and mauls. This was a change from last week where the Bees completely bossed the Alnwick pack in the close exchanges and it was soon Dinnington who were on top and keeping the lion's share of territory and possession. The Bees back row of Louis Fraser, Mani Riaz and Tom Cummins, ably supported by second row men Troy Frisch and Tom Booth were asked to put in quite session of tackling practice, with youngster, Fraser having a fine afternoon, belying his tender years. As the home side nudged closer to the Bees line a score looked on the cards. The equalizing score duly arrived with a simple but well executed roll around the front of a lineout getting second rower, Dean MaCaulay, on the score sheet, ably converted from out wide by the Dinnington centre, Chris Williams.
A penalty then followed and it was 10 - 7 to the home side as the first quarter ended.
There was no panicking in the Bees ranks and players right across the fifteen continued to tackle well and take the right option when possession fell to the Bees. There is a clearly an understanding developing at half back between Lightfoot and Dan Jeffrey and having that pivot to work off in midfield will surely stand the Bees in good stead over the coming weeks, as both half backs popped up individually and as a pair to good effect in both attacking and defensive capacities. Lightfoot slotted a penalty on 28 minutes to level the scores, but then as the half hour mark passed, the referee saw fit to yellow card the Bees' skipper, Booth for a high tackle. Although Booth himself had been the recipient of a couple of slaps across the throat himself only a minute earlier, the referee saw Booth's as a more serious indiscretion. This yellow card caused the Bees supporters on the touchlines to howl for a reciprocal yellow card for much of the rest of the games as a couple of high, but far from dangerous challenges punctuated proceedings. With the Bees a man short, the Dinnington pack now had a real chance to capitalise on their advantage and their number 8, Will Marshall, was soon celebrating the score. The Bees came back at Dinnington and were soon pressing in and around the home 22. With an icy stiff breeze blowing up the field into the Bees faces, kicking was not going to be easy, but the two penalties the Bees were awarded in the period running up to half time were calmly despatched by Lightfoot, with the sides turning round at 17-16, the one point advantage to the home side looking like it was not enough of a margin to compensate for the tricky wind which favoured the side playing towards the clubhouse.
Within three minutes of the restart Dinnington had extended their advantage to four points with a penalty, but with Booth back on the field and fired up, the Bees were soon taking the game to their hosts, with some astute kicking from Lightfoot and Jeffrey pushing the game deep into home territory. On 48 minutes the Bees lead was restored. A move up the right touchline faltered and the ball was fed in field. The ball ended up in the hands of Dennis Touffour who momentarily looked to have lost his footing and the ball. Somehow he held on and shipped the ball to his left, where the Bees backline injected some real pace into the move and Lightfoot zipped out a pass to Ben Greaves who was haring up the touchline. There was no telling that Greaves is a lot nearer 40 than 30 as the veteran scooted over in the left corner.
Where Dinnington had held the upper hand for the opening 40, the game was being taken over gradually by the visitors and with the pack managing to get the ball away from the midfield wrestling match, with Jeffrey, Lightfoot and the rest of the Bees backline mixing up the kicking and running options, a third score appeared to be on the cards. However, it didnt arrive as part of a flowing move, the score was claimed by Tom Cummins carrying the ball the final few feet through a wall of bodies to dot down under the sticks. With Lightfoot's extra points extending the lead to eight points, the Bees at least knew their hosts would have to score twice to win, but with a full 25 minutes on the clock, that was clearly not an impossible task for the home side. The Bees then lost hooker, Mat Cochrane to a shoulder injury, and a reshuffle was necessary as Corey Spencer replaced Cochrane. The Bees changed their lineout options to try and guarantee they kept possession on their own throw and the decision proved to be a good one. Dinnington threw everything they could down the hill at the Bees defence but only breached the line once. Fortunately for Whitcombe's men the final pass was forward and the Bees were able to clear their lines and finish the game eight points in front, denying Dinnington the losing bonus point.