The Bees overcame adversity to secure a morale-boosting win and four vital league points from their trip to Guernsey this weekend.
A brace of scintillating tries from the Bees’ backline coupled with a nerveless kicking performance from the tee by skipper Jack Jolly was the difference between the two sides in a game played under floodlights on Saturday evening.
An afternoon flight from Birmingham Airport and a late kick off didn’t seem to faze Pete Glackin’s charges, but an injury to prop Kurtis Payne in the warm up only served to put further pressure on the already injury-depleted squad.
It was perhaps unsurprising therefore that the Raiders were first on the scoreboard after 5 minutes through a try from prop Layton Baptiste, converted by full back Alex Glow. The visitors found their feet however and had the best of the remaining first forty minutes.
Matt Dight showed his pace and finishing ability with a peach of a try with 22 minutes on the clock, with flanker Ashley Scriven on hand to finish off some good handling in the backs to extend the lead to 7-12 at the break, Jolly able to add the extras at the second time of asking.
Having rested some players for the previous week’s trip to Rams, Guernsey had clearly targeted this game as a potential home win. They certainly went about their work in the first twenty minutes of the second half with this objective in mind. Tries for openside flanker Dom Rice followed shortly afterwards by a score for his blindside partner Douglas Horrocks – the latter after the Bees had been reduced to 14 men with the sin binning of Ed Krawiecki – put the Raiders back on top.
However, with Glow missing what were both eminently kickable conversations and Jolly successful from an intervening penalty attempt, the 19-15 lead for the home side was a slender one. This was turned into a deficit five minutes later thanks to two further penalties from the assured boot of Jolly.
And it was the visitors who held their nerve in the final seven minutes, with full back Corey Venus conjuring a try out of nowhere with his electric pace to seal the win, much to the delight of the travelling Bees support. Jolly’s kick from the touchline even denied the Raiders the consolation of a losing bonus point.
The win and the four points gained keeps the Bees (on 8 points) two points ahead of bottom-placed London Irish Wild Geese, who surprised Redruth with a 33-28 win. It has also narrowed the gap between third from bottom Old Redcliffians (11 points) and Guernsey (13 points) in thirteenth spot.
Next Saturday (27th October KO 2.30pm), the Bees welcome Canterbury to Portway. The Kentish side are currently fifth in the table on 27 points, having won 5 of their 8 games so far this season. They come into Saturday’s game on the back of a 40-34 win at home against Clifton.
Bees v Guernsey: 1. Nick Bingham, 2. Alex Willis 3. Matt Probert, 4. Matt Spink, 5. Andy Weaver, 6. Ed Krawiecki (YC), 7. Ashley Scriven (T), 8. Marcus Brown, 9. Sean O’Sullivan, 10. Jack Jolly (3P, 2C), 11. Matt Dight (T), 12. Nathan Tilsley, 13. Dan Kelly, 14. Luke Smith, 15. Corey Venus (T).
Replacements: 16. Stewart Pearl 17. Keenan Cooper, 18.. Adam Nunney, 19. Ben Phillips, 20. Jevon Hinds.
Referee:- Dr Jonathon Cook