Malton & Norton 38-12 Bees
Bees slump to another defeat.
This defeat sees Martin Whitcombe’s men slip back to tenth in North One East with two vital games now looming on the horizon. Next up is a visit to Cleckheaton who sit one place above the Bees, although they have the same number of league points. A week later, the Bees entertain Percy Park, the side currently occupying the final relegation berth, so with only 6 league fixtures left on the slate, it is vital that the Wagon Lane side pick up points to keep them clear of the drop zone. This was a fixture that the Bees believed they could pick up points from and in the first forty minutes there seemed to be grounds for optimism. However, the whole nature of this game seemed to hinge on a single incident right on half time. Both sides had period in the ascendant, but with seconds remaining before half time the Bees were charging down the right wing, with a burst from James Morton appearing to create an overlap inside the home 22. With Adam Sutcliffe screaming for an inside pass and Inoke Finau overlapping Morton, it looked like a pass either way would result in a Bees score to push their advantage out to three tries to one. A home defender scythed down Morton, and rather than hitting the deck with ball in hand, the Bees centre tried to flick the ball out to his right and into the open arms of Finau. Had the ball gone anywhere near the Bees players in the vicinity, a try still looked on, but the ball bobbled up into the arms of the final home defender, Zwelakh Sodladla, who skipped away from the Bees players and hared 80 metres in for the score up the hill.
That score seemed to utterly deflate the Bees and it was a different Malton side which started the second half. After the game Whitcombe commented: “Fair play to Malton, they thouroughly deserved the win with that second half performance. We just lost our way after half time; maybe we threw everything into the first half and trying to keep defending against the slope of the hill was just too much for us. I think our cause would have been helped if we had been playing against fourteen men in the second half as I thought the Malton player should have walked for the punch on Tom Cummins, but the ref is out there on his own and if he didn’t see it, he didn’t see it, he doesn’t have any help from wired up touch judges and the like. Malton deserved the win in the end, and we just get on with it and focus on next week.”
However, in fairness to the visitors, their chances looked to be hamstrung from the off as the Bees took the field with no recognised second rows and front rower, Sam White, slotting in at flanker. It was to their immense credit that the Bees were two scores to one up in that moment before half time, after superb handling had put first Adam Sutcliffe over in the 23rd minute and then a burst from Mani Riaz near the posts claimed a second score in the 29th minute.
On a very heavy pitch it looked set to be an attritional battle between the packs and when the home side opted for scrums in the early exchanges it seemed they believed they would have the upper hand in the tight. However, it proved not to be an area they could dominate and the makeshift second row pairing of Riaz and Tom Booth were outstanding in the opening quarter of the game, anchoring the scrum, but also keeping on their feet at the heart of the Bees scrambling defence. Both sides played some good rugby almost in defiance of the conditions under foot and after the initial onslaught from the home side, it was the visitors who showed they can play a bit with the two tries coming from excellent handling moves. After the score from Riaz, the Bees defence lapsed in concentration and another South African in the home ranks, Luke Raduva galloped in for a score.
The game remained finely balanced in the run up to half time with the visitors possibly edging the contest, and as Morton burst through in the 39th minute, it looked like the Bees would be taking a 17 points to 5 advantage into half time, but instead it was Malton who were celebrating as the referee blew for half time. The home side seemed to be revitalised for the second half and it took five minutes for the third of the Malton South Africans, Vusumi Dyantijes to gallop home.With Centre, Tom Foan adding a fourth score in the fiftieth minute, the Bees were beginning to unravel in defence, although the home sides ability to juggle the ball along the back line may have either been top drawer skills or slightly fortuitous, but it made no difference as the home side were clearly better side in the opening ten minutes on the second period. Tempers were beginning to fray on both sides and there were a couple of incidents of fisticuffs involving players from both sides, with Tom Cummins being the recipient of a blow which left him with blood streaming from a wound on his eyebrow. The Bees were back on the front foot only intermittently and rarely broke into Malton territory, but the fifth and sixth scores that the home side ran in, from James Rounthwaite and Jamie Bulmer, gave the score line a slightly lopsided look, but were a fair reflection of their dominance of territory and possession in the second half.