Bradford & Bingley 18, Chester 36

A ninth defeat of this SSE National League Three North campaign means that Bradford & Bingley are perilously close to the relegation zone, with another difficult-looking fixture looming at Percy Park.

However, the Bees players remain confident that they have the wherewithal to turn this season around, and anyone who has watched them this season will have seen that there is much to be admired in their play.

Nevertheless, there will be a period where they lose their shape or gift easy points to the opposition.

It was no different yesterday. The home side were leading 13-10 at half-time and emerged for the second period with the slight slope and breeze behind them.

They were equal to leaders Chester in open play and were on top in the tight, yet within seven minutes they were 16 points in arrears and any hope of a surprise victory was in tatters.

The common theme in all three scores conceded in that short period was very poor kicking. On 41 minutes, Richard Scull sliced a clearance kick which ballooned all of five metres into the arms of a Chester player.

It took a simple pass to wingman Pat Coy for the mistake to be converted into a score.

The Wagon Lane crowd were largely still taking their places in the ground as Coy dotted down, and no sooner had they settled down for the second half than Chester were over the whitewash again.

Ben Greaves chipped the ball forward from defence and the kick was gathered by Rhys Hayes, who cantered back through the Bees defence unscathed to score.

Lloyd Hayes added the conversion and the game settled down briefly but it took Bradford & Bingley only five minutes to give up possession with another poor kick, allowing Coy to scamper home for his second score. Hayes added the extras and the Bees were looking utterly ragged.

The home side began to take the game to Chester through the direct approach of the forwards, and Guy Ford, Brett Mitchell, Jason Moss and Adam Malthouse all made good yards up the middle, but the visitors' defence held firm.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, the long period of the Bees forwards having the upper hand was undone as Tom Bills made a hash of a kick which was intercepted by substitute Sean Green, who adding another five-pointer.

The first half had promised so much more for the Bees as the home side played a much more controlled game, mixing forward dominance with good handling in the backs, largely keeping the ball away from the dangerous Chester backline.

Lloyd Hayes and Scull exchanged penalties for the only scores of the opening quarter, and as the clock ticked past 20 minutes, the Bees enterprise was rewarded as forwards and backs combined to ship the ball from right to left, allowing Adam Wellington to dive in at the corner.

Scull added a booming conversion and followed that kick with a penalty on 27 minutes.

The speed of the Chester back line was in evidence three minutes later as the Bees conceded possession at the back of a scrum 40 metres out. Seconds later the Chester backs were on the Bees line and Lloyd Hayes was able to canter over to the left of the posts.

The score was against the run of play, but the Bees were happy enough to take a13-10 advantage into the break.

It was 28 minutes into the second half before the Bees would score again, through Dan Jeffrey, but aside from the seven or eight minutes of madness where Chester rattled in 19 points and ran away with the game, the Bees were equal to their visitors and showed that if they can control the ball and not give away territory and possession with wayward kicking, they will be able to pull away from the drop zone.