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Bees left to rue two minutes of madness
Bradford & Bingley 23 Harrogate 30
A game where the home side snatched defeat from the jaws of victory was how many in the Wagon Lane crowd saw this contest.
The outcome hinged on a crucial two-minute period right at the end of an entertaining National League Division Three North contest.
The Bees were awarded a penalty directly under the Harrogate posts and, with the score at 25-23, the penalty would have given the home side a slender lead to defend in the final three or four minutes.
Bees skipper Guy Ford called for the scrum as his pack had the Harrogate forwards at their mercy and were consistently shunting the Claro Road men backwards, sideways and upwards at every scrum.
Having scored a penalty try from a set-piece ten minutes earlier, another seven points looked on the cards.
As the two packs came together the shrill blast of the referee’s whistle indicated a penalty to Harrogate as the referee was not happy with the way Bees loosehead prop Jason Moss had engaged at the scrum.
The Bees looked utterly bewildered, Harrogate briefly celebrated and cleared their lines.
The Bees players appeared to be still not focusing on what was now happening on the field as Harrogate’s backline roared down the field and Michael Aspinall was in at the corner.
The conversion was missed so at least the Bees could claim a losing bonus point, but in two minutes a memorable victory was lost.
Harrogate ran in four unconverted tries in the first period, looking much the livelier side away from the breakdown and set-piece, while Tom Bills kicked three penalties for the Bees.
Richard Tafa burst up the middle to scramble over by the posts early in the second half for a converted try that made it 20-16 to ’Gate.
Sam Bottomley was first to a bouncing ball to increase the visitors’ lead to nine points.
The Bees’ pack were now shunting the visitors around almost at will and an inevitable penalty try was converted by Bills to make it 25-23. Cue the dramatic conclusion, which left the Bees wondering what might, and indeed should, have been.