Morpeth 22-21 Bees
By Benji Pickin
Yellow Cards Need to Stop if Bees Want to Win.
The home side started the day as undefeated league leaders but only led this game with the final kick of the eighty minutes as Ben Hornby’s conversion of Michael Craig’s try in time added on saw Morpeth home and left the Bees with a solitary losing bonus point.
It has taken the Wagon Lane side some time to adapt to the new patterns of play that the coaching team have tried to install, but for most of this game it looked like the Bees would reap a handsome reward from sticking to the new game plan and keeping faith with the vision that the coaching team has for how the game should be played. A man of the match performance from Tom Johnson at stand off orchestrated some fine handling moves from the Bees and some extra pace and go forward was injected into the Midfield with the introduction of new signing Stefan Roguski after 20 minutes.
Although this is a new look Bees side, there was something very familiar to the travelling supporters about the first points on the board as Tom Cummins powered over from close range after 8 minutes. With Lance Taylor slotting the extra points the visitors deserved their early lead and looked to be the better side in the early exchanges. Ben Hornby pulled back a penalty for Morpeth with 14 minutes played, but it was the visitors who were playing more of the rugby and with the pack at least gaining parity with their hosts in the tight, looked dangerous with each possession.
The performance of two of the older heads in the Bees pack, Andy Smith and Ryan Wederell was key to the solid performance up front and the Bees next score came from the forwards. However, it took some superb footwork not normally associated with a second row to send Ante Majic over for the five points as the full back was turned inside out by the fleet footed lock on his way to the line.
The Bees were then suddenly undermined by a familiar problem this season, a yellow card. As has happened already this season, almost as soon as Michael Crotch crossed the whitewash for his usual ten minutes in the cooler, the Bees opposition were over for a score and a 14 points to 3 advantage was suddenly reduced to six.
Jake Jardine collecting the score in the 37th minute. The sides turned round at 14 points to 8 but almost as soon as the Bees were back to a full complement on the field, Taylor found a superb running angle to take a pass from Johnson to score his first try in Bees colours. Taylor converted his own score to put the visitors 21 points to 8 clear.
Morpeth are too good a side to allow the visitors to run away with the game and within three minutes Fraser Boldy was over the line to pull Morpeth to within 6 points after Hornby had tagged on the conversion. 28 minutes remained on the clock and with both sides picking up the pace of the game in attack and defence it looked increasingly like the game would be decided by no more than a single score.
Taylor had missed a kickable penalty for the Bees which kept Morpeth within a single converted score. As time ticked on close to full time the home side found themselves camped in Bees territory.
The Bees then had Max Mountain sent to the sin bin leaving them a man light with Morpeth edging ever nearer. With three minutes of time added on played, the Bees defence was finally broken and Craigs dotted down leaving Hornby a simple kick to claim the victory.