Bradford & Bingley 29 Pocklington 29

ALTHOUGH the game finished with honours even and the general consensus was that a draw was about the right result, this was a game that the Bees could have won right at the death, had Lance Taylor landed the conversation of Adam Sutcliffe's third try in the 78th minute.

However, it would be harsh in the extreme to place any blame at the feet of the Kiwi half-back, who had landed two very difficult pots at goal in the first half which kept the visitors within two points of Pocklington at half-time.

Sutcliffe's score in the dying minutes completed his hat-trick, but gave the Bees a four-try bonus point for the 14th time in 19 games this season, with only North One East leaders Scarborough equalling that pace.

The draw earned the Bees three league points and pushed the total for the season to 56. Looking at the league table with a glass half full for a moment, history indicates that 56 league points almost guarantees that a side cannot be relegated and even if Anthony Posa's men have a disastrous run in to end their season, it now looks certain that they will be playing their rugby in this same division again next season.

To turn things round and to look at the season with the glass half full, the Bees have clearly made huge strides forward this term.

At the same point last season, they were definitely part of the relegation tussle with 39 league points from 19 fixtures and only 360 points in the "points for" column as opposed to the 531 they have accumulated this season. The "points for" average this season is therefore about 28 per game, so the 29 the Bees pocketed in this fixture is about bang on the season average.

Taylor had a chance to kick his side into an early lead with a fourth minute penalty attempt, but the swirling wind, which was a feature all afternoon, just kept Taylor's efforts out, but the home side were swift to capitalise as James Thompson was over for their opening score within three minutes.

After the opening exchanges, it perhaps appeared that the Bees took some time to settle into their regular patterns, but on 20 minutes, Sutcliffe was away for the first of his three scores.

Taylor made no mistake slotting the extras and the visitors were briefly in front. The lead lasted barely five minutes, as inside centre Joseph Holborough broke through to score. With his full back Christian Pollock adding the conversion, the home side led 12-7 with 25 minutes played.

Ten minutes later Taylor stepped up to slot another penalty, his 13th of the campaign, and the Bees were now within two as the sides headed in for half-time.

Skipper Tom Booth was doing all he could to get some momentum going in the forwards, and his efforts were rewarded with the vote for man of the match, but eight minutes into the second period, it was a Pocklington back rower who was in the limelight as No 8 Marcus Britland crashed over. With Pollock improving the score with another conversion, it was now 19-10 with fully half an hour to play.

Almost immediately following that score, the Bees brought Benny Greaves off the bench to perhaps lead from the back, replacing Tanner Lightfoot in the backline.

Greaves certainly looked busy from the outset, but it was a Bees forward who brought the side right back into the game, as Tom Cummins crashed through for his sixth score of the season.

Taylor made no mistake with the extra points and it was now definitely game on as the Bees were two points adrift with the final quarter still to play.

Pollock answered Cummins' score with a penalty and then with 13 minutes left on the watch, scrum half Ben Rees put his side 12 points clear of the visitors with his side's fourth try.

Pocklington then lost their hooker James Thornton to the sin bin, their third yellow card of the game, and within a minute the Bees had another try and conversion on the board as the Sutcliffe and Taylor combination added seven points.

There was now only seven or possibly eight minutes on the watch and it seemed that a score from either side would have the game won.

On 77 minutes Sutcliffe broke free to dot down, leaving Taylor the conversion to win the game. However, it was not to be and on balance, both sides will be reasonably pleased with their three points after an entertaining 80 minutes.