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Tom Bills keeps his nerve to hand Bees first win of season
Bradford & Bingley 25 Burnage 23
Tom Bills stepped up to slot over the winning three points with only two minutes left on the clock to cap a fine all-round performance from the young Bradford & Bingley fly half in yesterday's SSE National League Three North clash.
Bills and his half-back partner, 18-year-old Dan Jeffrey, were both on top form and gave a far more assured showing, both consistently taking the right option throughout the game.
The Wagon Lane side still had a nervous couple of minutes of defending before they could celebrate their first league victory of the season but the defensive frailties of last week seemed to have disappeared and the Bees held on to win.
Burnage probably saw more of the ball than the home side and will return to South Manchester possibly believing they had done enough to earn the victory.
The wind whipping down the Aire Valley meant the side playing with the elements probably had a two-score advantage at least, so it was vital that the side playing with the wind first took the maximum advantage.
The Bees were quickly on the scoreboard as the quicksilver Jeffrey zipped through the Burnage defence for a fine individual score on four minutes.
With Bills improving the try, the Bees had opened the game in the best possible fashion.
The lead was extended on 13 minutes as Adam Wellington stepped off his wing to dot down out on the left.
Despite the wind powering behind Bills' kick. the conversion was missed.
Burnage took longer to settle, but got fully into their stride as the first quarter ended as Phil Edge ploughed over following a period of concerted pressure.
The game ebbed and flowed, with both sides having their moments, but the defences had the upper hand for the next 20 minutes and it looked like the sides would turn round separated by only one score.
With the game heading into time added on at the end of the half, Tom Kanouros galloped clear of his opposite number and shot up the left-hand touch line.
There was fully 60 metres to the line as the Bees winger broke clear, but with Benny Greaves screaming for the ball inside him, Kanouros timed the final pass superbly and Greaves beat the final defender to claim five points.
The touichline conversion from Bills had the distance but not the accuracy and it was 17-5 to the home side at the break.
Burnage came out for the second period looking the sharper side and early pressure was rewarded with a Ross Winney penalty.
Straight from the kick-off, Burnage were back on the scoresheet as James Knight intercepted a pass inside his own half and set off for the line.
With the conversion notched by Winney, there were only two points between the sides.
Burnage were now clearly on top and the Bees did not make any significant forays into opposition territory for the first 20 minutes of the half.
Burnage were in front for the first time on 54 minutes as Rob Wellock was on the end of a move up the right-hand touchline to put his side three points clear.
The Bees were now clearly on the ropes and needed to pull something out of the bag to revive their chances.
On 62 minutes, something special was duly pulled from nowhere. Wellington received a pass in his own 22 but immediately changed gear and stepped outside the on-rushing defender.
With a dip of the shoulder, another Burnage defender was caught flat-footed and Wellington was clear.
Richard Scull was haring up behind his winger in support and took a fine pass from Wellington to charge clear of the full back and head home for the score.
Again Bills was near but not successful with the conversion, so Scull's fine try left his side only two points up with 18 minutes left on the clock.
Burnage came roaring back, but the Bees tackling was much improved and the game remained locked in midfield.
The Bees infringed at a breakdown and Winney stepped up to notch a further three points and push his side a point clear.
The Bees battled back up-field and when Burnage conceded a penalty, Bills stepped up to nervelessly slot the winner.