West Hartlepool is must-win match now for Bees

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Brett Mitchell's break set up Bradford & Bingley's try Brett Mitchell's break set up Bradford & Bingley's try

Waterloo 26, Bradford & Bingley 11

Bradford & Bingley travelled to Merseyside to face a side who began the day one place higher and five points in front of the Wagon Lane men in SSE National League Three North.

Expectations were high that the Bees might be able to return with a winning bonus point to close that gap and also lift themselves further away from the relegation spots as they had won at Waterloo on their previous three visits.

The optimism in the visitors' camp seemed to be justified in the first minute as Brett Mitchell intercepted a pass in his own half and galloped through the Waterloo back line.

He did not have the legs to go the distance himself, but Richard Tafa came bursting alongside in support and beat the final defenders to the corner.

After that initial burst, however, the Bees never seemed to engage their higher gears and delivered a surprisingly flat and disjointed performance where even the forwards failed to set their usually dominant platform in the tight.

The home forwards are one of the few packs to have given as good as they got this season and perhaps it was this inability to take the upper hand in the tight exchanges which stopped the Bees from finding any rhythm.

The home side did not take long to get back into Bees territory and were rewarded with a penalty on eight minutes, slotted by leading scorer Liam Reeve.

The Bees lost stand-in scrum half Ben Greaves to the sin bin at this point, and while they were a man short the home side made hay as Tom Holloway crossed but could not convert his own score on 14 minutes.

Bradford & Bingley then held firm in defence and made inroads into home territory as the half-hour approached, and a penalty from Matthew Robinson was their reward which levelled the scores.

However, as happens too often, the Bees relaxed after the score and Waterloo were almost immediately on the scoresheet again as Jacob Allen crossed to put his side five points clear.

The conversion was missed but the Bees were next on the scoreboard as Robinson added a three pointer, and at 13-11 the game was still very much in the balance.

With their next visit to Bees territory, the home side stretched the lead by a further three with a penalty, and then again on the hour mark as Reeve slotted another kick.

As the game moved into the final ten minutes, it was imperative that the Bees found any kind of score to be within seven of their hosts and at least claim a bonus point.

Quite the opposite happened though as Waterloo stretched away through a Liam McGovern try and conversion to pull 15 points clear and wrap up the win.

With Birkenhead Park, the team immediately below Bradford & Bingley, winning away from home, the gap between the Wagon Lane men and that final relegation spot has now shrunk to eight points, and although the Bees are very much in control of their own destiny still, it makes a win against bottom-side West Hartlepool next Saturday imperative.

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