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Bradford & Bingley edge classic encounter at death
Billingham 43 Bradford & Bingley 45
Bees boosted their survival hopes with victory thanks to a converted try in the 12th minute of stoppage time.
In what was a thrilling encounter, Dan Cookson bullocked his way to the line to pull the visitors level at 43-43 before Richard Scull completed an awkward conversion to win the game.
Yet the already shredded finger nails of the visiting support had to suffer a further three minutes of tension as home stand-off Peter Evans missed with a final shy at the posts.
In simple terms, the game hinged on the brute force of the Bees pack over the guile of the Billingham back line.
The hosts scored first as a kick through from Evans cleared the despairing grasp of Richard Tafa, allowing one of the home forwards to dot down.
Tafa made amends as he crossed out to the left of the posts, with Scull coverting. Six minutes later the Bees spun the ball from left to right and James Morton found himself in space out wide to double the advantage.
Billingham hit back when Paul Shepherd zipped over near the posts but Bees extended their advantage as Tommy Kanouros charged up the right wing and skipped inside the final defender to make it 19-12.
Prop Steve Smith went over for the hosts but Adam Malthouse made it 24-19 from another Bees drive.
However, Billingham crossed twice before the break to lead 33-24.
With the slope now favouring the visitors, the deficit was not insurmountable.
Evans extended the home advantage with a penalty before the Wagon Laners’ skipper Brett Mitchell cross ed after the Bees pack had battered the Billingham line.
A penalty try, which Scull improved, saw the visitors go 38-36 up.
It took the home side only two minutes to reply as left winger Elliot Husband arrowed through the defence to score from 40 metres out. With Evans adding the extras, the home side were once more in front.
With so many stoppages in play, only the referee knew how long there was left.
The pack continued to batter away at the home line and, just as it seemed as if Billingham would hold out against the onslaught, Cookson rolled away from a maul and ploughed over. Scull’s conversion edged the visitors into the lead but it was a long and nervous last three minutes.
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