Bees 34-19 West Leeds
By Benji Pickin
Bees survive West Leeds come back to take first five pointer of the season.
A first win of the season and a bonus point for scoring four tries lifts the Bees out of the relegation zone and should hopefully set a lively looking home side on the march up the North One East table after the side's initial struggles over the first four fixtures. Even though the Bees have misfired to a greater or lesser extent over those opening fixtures there has been a growing feeling, amongst players and supporters alike, that things are starting to come together under the guidance of Anthony Posa and Hugh Gumbs and these could be exciting times at Wagon Lane. Playing uphill into a fairly stiff breeze the home side looked likely to run up a cricket score as they had West Leeds firmly under the cosh for long periods of the first half. With gaps starting to appear across the West Leeds defensive line, there was no real surprise when debutant Cameron Bainbridge battled to the line in the 37th minute to claim that vital fourth try.
The Bees opened purposefully and were on the scoreboard in the fourth minute. Some fine handling and pace in the back line turned the West Leeds this way and that and when the ball was recycled to the right of the posts, skipper Tom Booth, ignoring the over lap to his right, pinned his ears back to bullock his way to the line. Lance Taylor could not land the conversion into the stiff breeze, but would make amends later in the game with some fine kicking to land three conversions and a penalty despite the difficult conditions.
West Leeds are having horrendous injury problems and have had to call up several youngsters to field a side. In some of the early exchanges the rather diminutive figures in West Leeds colours certainly showed they had some pace about them, but when caught by the Bees forwards, there were a quite a few sharp intakes of breath as a visting player conceded four of five stones in a thumping collision. The Bees pack were on top in the scrums too, but it took a further 17 minutes before the second five pointer arrived. This time it was Jack Malthouse crashing onto a ball at pace under the posts and managing to touch the ball down at the foot of a post. Taylor slotted that conversion, but within three minutes the action was at the other end of the field as Tim Pickersgill opened the West Leeds account. Campbell Breakwell added the conversion and it was 12 points to seven with 25 minutes played.
The score from West Leeds certainly seemed to galvanise the home side into action and the Bees now upped the pace and had their visitors pinned in their own 22. As the Bees pushed from left to right the ball was shipped to Ryan Wederell who capped his 250th game for the Bees with a gallop to the line from five metres out. Taylor improved the score to 19 7. The Bees then introduced Cameron Bainbridge to the fray and with his first real touch of the ball he was able to escape from two West Leeds tackles and batter his way over in the right hand corner with 37 minutes played. Taylor's excellent conversion closed the scoring for the half and with the elements very much in favour of the Bees playing down the slope, the home supporters anticipated several more scores in the second stanza.
The West Leeds side clearly had other ideas and upped their game significantly and were unlucky to only collect two scores as they also restricted the home side to a single try and a penalty. Ten minutes had elapsed on the watch before Adam Sutcliffe was able to break free and dart over to the left hand corner, pushing the Bees to 31 - 7 in front. West Leeds also had a secret weapon up their sleeves in the shape of Sam Waddington a familiar name to Wagon Lane regulars as he is part of the same Waddington clan that supplied Mark and Sam to the Bees in the late Eighties and early Nineties, and the youngster was able to get over the whitewash twice in quick succession in the 62nd and 65th minutes. Those two scores pulled West Leeds to within 12 points at 31-19 and suddenly it was the Bees who had to show they knew how to defend. There was a slight moment of relief for the Bees as Taylor slotted a penalty to keep the visitors two converted tries in arrears, but it was only dogged defence in the closing moments that prevented West Leeds from claiming their own four try bonus point. The sides meet again next week in the Yorkshire Cup.