A SPIRITED fight-back in the last quarter saw the Bees salvage two bonus points from their 36-33 defeat at the hands of Stourbridge.
The come back, which was assisted in no small part by a meltdown by the home side, could have been converted into a memorable win had the Bees not fluffed a last minute chance when camped on the Stourbridge line with the home side reduced to 13 men.
The disappointment was further accentuated by news that both the Bees’ relegation rivals Luctonians and Hull both recorded wins, leaving Eugene Martin’s men firmly in the drop zone.
An insipid first half saw Stourbridge carve out a fourteen point lead without looking particularly convincing, although they certainly had stamped their authority in the scrum. The home side’s three tries came from fly half Gary Dipple, lock Ben Hughes and No.8 Drew Harper and were all converted by Dipple.
Ian Briggs, briefly on as an injury replacement for Dai Evans, crossed the whitewash for the Bees between Stour’s second and third tries and showed that the home defence could be susceptible to a more rigorous examination. Canning added the extras, but missed a penalty, to give a 21-7 half time score-line.
A powerful try by No.8 Steve Leach, converted by Canning, opened the Bees account in the second half suggesting that the tide could be on the turn. However a Dipple penalty and a Bressington try, scored then the Bees had committed all 15 men to a driving maul on the Stourbridge’s line, put the Stourton Park side firmly back in the driving seat, with the bonus try point in the bag.
And when flanker Nigel Mukarati scored from close range just two minutes later and Dipple had added the conversion, at 36-14 the Bees’ fate seemed well and truly sealed. Yet spurred on by stand in captain Rob Connolly, the defibrillator was applied and the visitors miraculously came back to life.
The response was immediate – firstly Dai Evans fed Canning to score under the posts, then Aquile Smith showed his pace and determination to brilliantly finish in the corner. The wingers’ try was created by a nice break by Charlie Ding, who had come off the bench at scrum half. Stourbridge’s nervousness then turned to panic as replacement centre Sione Tuipulotu was shown the yellow card by referee Haskins for a high tackle.
Soon Bees prop Stefan Thorpe was on the score sheet and with the Canning conversion, the score was 36-33. By now it was one way traffic and Stour were then to be reduced to 13 men as Jarvis was sin binned for a deliberate interception knock on – the full back was perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty try in the process. Despite disrupting a Stour scrum on the 5m line, the Bees knocked on and Neil Mitchell’s charges breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle.
Bees have the weekend off to regroup before welcoming Huddersfield to Portway on Saturday 28th March.