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Replacement Henry Paul plays key role as Bees notch rare win
Bradford & Bingley 41, Rossendale 30
Second-half replacement Henry Paul helped Bradford & Bingley turn this match around and record only their second victory of the season in SSE National League Three North.
When Rossendale’s Steve Nutt plucked a careless pass from Martyn Mitchell almost off the fingertips of Adam Wellington to intercept and race 80 metres for a score which extended the visitors advantage to 22-13 with 46 minutes played, it looked possible that the game was about to run away from the home side.
Things got immediately worse as two of the Bees' most experienced players were forced off with injuries in quick succession. Ryan Wederall was first to limp off, followed by Benny Greaves on 48 minutes.
However, with Eddie Peglau on for Wederall, the Bees called on Paul to make his debut. The impact of the veteran dual-code international seemed to be immediate as within seconds of him entering the fray, his centre partner Richard Tafa was blasting straight through the Rossendale defence to score under the posts, bringing the home side right back into contention.
The second half opened with a Nutt penalty followed by his interception score, but after Tafa had brought the Bees back into the game, an exchange of penalties left the score at 25-23 to Rossendale with around 20 minutes to play.
It was then time for Paul to show he still has something special to bring to the party. A sublime sleight of hand set Tafa free on a burst from right to left and, although the Tongan could not quite make the line himself, his nicely-weighted chip through ricocheted off a post for Richard Hughes to claim the five points.
Richard Scull then tacked on the conversion and a penalty to edge his side eight points clear.
No sooner was Scull back at his post at full back than he had opened up a gaping hole in the Rossendale defence with a superb dummy which set Tafa on his way to the line putting the Bees 13 clear.
Rossendale continued to battle for everything and a superb all-round performance from No 8 Dan Collins was rewarded with a score.
After several minutes of injury time, the Bees managed the last word with a penalty from Scull.
Skipper Guy Ford seemed to be the Bees' front-line defensive kicker for much of the game but found touch to great effect or moved the game deep into Rossendale territory with several booming punts.
The Bees opened brightly and were unlucky not to have points on the board with their first visit to the Rossendale 22.
Wellington just fumbled as he stretched to score out on the left. No matter as the Bees kept up the pace, and on seven minutes Brett Mitchell was able to burrow to the line as his pack drove towards the in-goal area.
Rossendale were swift to respond. As full back Nutt stepped out of a poor tackle in his own territory, he was able to set off on a gallop into the Bees half, and with his backline reacting far quicker than the Bees defence, Dan Harrison swept over to the left of the posts.
With both conversions missed, it stayed locked at 5-5 until the 25th minute when Brett Mitchell drove over from a line-out about seven metres from the line.
The Rossendale defence stood firm as the Bees tried to batter through the middle.
After another forward drive was repelled, Tafa had seen enough and chipped a cheeky drop goal to push the Bees 13–5 in front.
Right on half-time, Rossendale pulled a score back as livewire scrum half Jamie Albinson scampered over. Nutt added the extras and the sides turned round at 13-12.
There was a tangible sense of relief among the players and supporters as the Wagon Lane club claimed a first five-point victory of the season.
The Bees didn’t do anything particularly different to how they have played in recent weeks, they just did the simple things far better and took the correct option from the breakdown and in open play.