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Waites puts boot in to deny Bradford & Bingley
West Hartlepool 30 Bradford & Bingley 28
Bradford & Bingley let a 21-12 interval lead slip, conceding an interception try before West Hartlepool clinched victory with a Stu Waites drop goal three minutes from time.
Although the Bees gained a bonus point for four tries and another for losing by fewer than seven points, the setback still dropped them into a relegation position.
The nail-biting climax was a fitting end to an entertaining game, with both sides scoring four tries and the lead changing hands five times.
However, West Hartlepool seemed doomed when, already nine points behind, they had Nathan Myers yellow-carded five minutes into the second period, with the Bees on the attack.
But Luke Watson’s interception try ignited the hosts’ confidence and laid the foundation for a thrilling comeback.
The game had started in just as lively a fashion as it continued with a couple of early tap penalties working well for West, Stewart Grazier accepting an inside pass from Waites to score the opening try two minutes into the game.
Bradford & Bingley came roaring back with two tries, the first an unstoppable scrum from five metres out, skipper Guy Ford getting the touchdown, and the second the result of excellent support play, winger Adam Wellington finishing off in the left corner. Both tries were converted by full back Richard Scull.
Andrew Rollins pulled a try back for West on 24 minutes but Bees dangerman Richard Tafa broke away up the left wing and finished a good solo try five minutes later to restore his side’s lead.
The first score of the second half seemed crucial, and Watson’s interception from just outside West’s 22 turned the momentum of the game.
Initially looking like he would be caught, he managed to outpace the chasing defenders and Waites’ conversion cut the deficit to just two points.
This was soon to become a one-point lead as he slotted over a penalty moments later after the visitors were penalised for taking out a line-out jumper in the air.
West continued our pressure and Andrew Foreman’s half-break led to Rollins’ second try of the game.
The scrum half slipped away up the short side and found Andrew Dixon in support. He juggled the pass but somehow offloaded to Rollins for an easy run to the line.
Waites couldn’t add the conversion leaving the Bees still within a score and they took full advantage, needing only five minutes to work a try for Scull, which he duly converted to retake the lead at 28-27.
There were still 15 minutes to play but Waites held his nerve when it mattered with that coolly-struck drop goal to retake the lead once more.
Bradford & Bingley still had time to respond, and they did, building an attack from inside their own half but a knock-on brought the final whistle.