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Ben Greaves: Draw was two points lost for Bradford & Bingley
Buy this photo » Bees centre Suka Hufanga makes a break in midfield
Bradford & Bingley 29, Penrith 29
On a day made for running rugby, Bradford & Bingley failed to defeat plucky SSE National League Three North basement club Penrith.
Some thought a draw was a fair result but the majority of home fans were disappointed that the Bees couldn’t back up their victory at Morley.
“It was three points lost, rather than two points gained,” admitted Bradford & Bingley full back Ben Greaves afterwards.
“We felt we should have beaten them but they defended really well.
“We had loads of territory and possession in the first half but we didn’t convert that into points.
“It should not have come down to Tom Bills having to kick a penalty at the end to get us a win.”
The Cumbrians were offside in the 83rd minute but Bills’ attempt drifted across the posts and fell just wide of the far upright.
After a minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of former Bees president Keith Loftus, the Bees almost capitalised on a piece of enterprise in his own 22 by Penrith fly half Paul Newton.
He tried to chip into space but home skipper Brett Mitchell leapt and blocked the kick, referee Jack Makepeace ruling that as a knock on rather than a charge-down.
Bills put the Bees ahead in the 11th minute with a penalty after Penrith were penalised for going over the top, and three minutes later it was 10-0 after Mitchell scored a try that Bills converted.
It seemed incomprehensible at this stage that the home side would need a try in first-half injury-time try to retake the lead but that was how the 40 minutes unfolded.
Phil Fell’s elusive run down the left wing at pace brought Penrith a try in the 20th minute and full back Ben Littleton capitalised on a break by Joe Ellis to cross in the 36th minute, Littleton’s conversion putting them 12-10 in front.
Chris Fisher’s opportunism in peeling off the side of a maul put Bradford & Bingley back in front, Bills converting to make the interval score 17-12.
Bills missed a penalty either side of these three tries in what was a feisty affair, Suka Hufanga’s break being followed by a yellow card four minutes later for fellow Bees centre Richard Tafa for a high tackle.
Penrith made the hosts pay for being a man light, Phil Fell crossing in the 54th minute and outstanding second row Ellis going over three minutes later, Littleton converting the first try as the visitors went into a 24-17 lead.
Combative Bees No 8 Adam Malthouse used his strength to make the line in the 61st minute, Bills’ conversion levelling the scores.
But quick thinking by centre Phil Armstrong, taking a tap penalty while the Bees had switched off, paved the way for Penrith’s man of the match Littleton to score in the 65th minute, and it needed Hufanga’s try in the 77th minute to tie the scores again.
While Tafa got cramp in his calf in the latter stages, more worrying for the Bees was the knee injury to young lock Harry Jeffrey in the first half. He is expected to be out for at least a fortnight.
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