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Bees delight faithful with a superb first half in emphatic win
Bradford & Bingley 53, Penrith 22
It was possibly the frustration of not getting a game for three weeks that inspired Bradford & Bingley to put together their most cohesive 40 minutes of rugby of the season in SSE National League Three North.
They played at a pace and style the visitors simply could not live with in the first half, collecting 34 points along the way.
It was perhaps understandable that the tempo slowed in the second half, but the game was clearly in the bag and Penrith had to improve on their poor first-half performance.
The Bees are acknowledged across the division as being the most solid scrummaging side, but there were many more facets of their play on show here, and for the home supporters in the Wagon Lane crowd it was an absolute joy to watch.
The pack again laid a very solid foundation, but once the ball was out in open play, half-backs Richard Scull and Steve Brimacombe used their full armoury of attacking options which consistently outwitted the scrambling defence.
Although Penrith took the lead with a first-minute penalty, aside from the odd dart from wingmen James Sanderson and Ben Littleton, there was not much of an offensive threat from the Cumbrians until well into the second half.
Richard Tafa was first on the scoresheet for the hosts, returning a clearance kick 50 metres to plough over.
Scull added the conversion and, with their next possession, the Bees were on target again as a cross-kick from Tom Bills bounced up into the arms of the onrushing James Morton, who jogged in under the sticks.
Scull improved the score and then added a penalty but skipper Guy Ford was the next to claim a five-pointer, charging up the left-hand side of a Bees attack to reach the whitewash on 20 minutes.
Nine minutes later, Ford claimed his 11th score of the campaign, burrowing over from short range.
The Bees were marking time at a point a minute and as they poured forward it looked like they may be heading for a cricket score.
Penrith managed to regroup somewhat in the minutes before half-time but could not hold out Adam Wellington, who barged through on 40 minutes.
The sides turned round at 34-3 and, with the slight slope to their advantage, Bradfiord & Bingley were soon on the front foot, Wellington showing his strength to force his way to the line on 44 minutes.
Scull slotted the extras to push the home side over 40 points, but suddenly Penrith found their forward gears and, with fly half Steve Wood trying everything in his bag of tricks to find a space in the Bees defence, a score for the visitors looked likely.
In fact, two came along in quick succession as full back Kris Bratton collected very similar scores to the right of the posts.
The pace of the game fell away somewhat and for 15 minutes neither side was able to fashion much of note as the game was locked in midfield.
The deadlock was broken on 70 minutes as Ryan Johnson reached the line, with Woods' conversion bringing the score to 46-22.
The Bees had introduced Aaron Magee from the bench around the hour mark and the youngster made several impressive bursts into the visiting defence and looks like a player who will become a favourite with the Wagon Lane regulars.
For all Magee’s enthusiasm and spark on the left wing, the Bees final score came out on the right as Richard Hughes galloped onto a pass out wide to mark his return from long-term injury with a well-taken score.