Huddersfield Y.M.C.A 34-31 Bees
Bees snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
The Bees began 2019 the way they ended 2018 with a defeat in a game which they should have won. The Wagon Lane side had a 31 points to 8 lead after they earned a penalty try in the first minute of the second half and should have the wherewithal to put the game to bed having built such a lead.
With a 23 point advantage, the visiting supporters thought their side would surely now kick on to register a significant victory over the side two places above them in the division. However it was not to be. The home side were nothing if not tenacious and resilient in their fight back and had their normally dead eye kicker and former Bees favourite, Gavin Stead, not left his kicking boots at home, in the end, the YMCA side could have claimed a far more handsome victory of their own as Stead missed four shots at goal which he may have landed on any other given Saturday. The wheels came off the Bees afternoon between the 57th and 69th minutes where they conceded three yellow cards, awarded against Ante Majic, Jack Malthouse and Tom Cummins and also leaked three tries which allowed the home side to pull the deficit back from 8-31 to 29-31. That yellow card against Cummins was his second of the afternoon, so he was shown red in the 67th minute, leaving the Bees a difficult 13 minutes with only 14 men on the field. In fact, because Malthouse was shown yellow in the 65th minute, the Bees actually faced the 8 minutes with only 13 men on the field.
After Stead had claimed YMCA's fourth score in the 69th minute and slotted the conversion to bring the home side within two points, The Bees needed calm heads to keep the ball away from their increasingly rampant hosts and run the clock down with the ball either deep in home territory or metaphorically shoved up a Bees jumper to grind out the final minutes. However, it was not to be, as another rush of blood from a Bees player gifted the ball back to the hosts and Tom Van Rooyen was quickly over the whitewash to put his side in front for the first since the first quarter.
Before the game the Bees had to shuffle their backline as Gene Te Amo had returned to New Zealand on a personal matter during the Holiday break, meaning Jack Malthouse moved in off the wing where he had collected 11 tries in his 11 games so far this season. However, the shuffle of personnel did not seem to disturb the Bees unduly, with Tom Cummins opening the scoring on 5 minutes. Sam Hodge collected a score for the home side in the 19th minute which Stead converted to give YMCA the lead for a short time. Lance Taylor edged the Bees back into the lead with a penalty and despite losing Tom Cummins to his first period in the sin bin, the visitors were looking increasingly dominant and when Malthouse broke out of his own 22 and galloped to the tryline on 35 minutes, the Bees were now in the ascendant. As the half wound down into injury time, Tom Johnson darted over for another score, showing no after effects from a suspected broken jaw, which had threatened to sideline him for a significant chunk of the season. Taylor's conversion meant the side turned round at 24 points to 8, with the Bees looking good value for that lead.
When the second half opened with a penalty try to push the Bees to 23 points clear and also claim the four try bonus for the 12th time in 15 games this season, it looked likely that the visitors would run away with the game and pull themselves only two league points shy of their hosts in the North One East table, putting Anthony Posa's side into the playoff contention with a home game against third placed Morpeth to come on Saturday 12th January.