The Bees missed out on an important opportunity to narrow the gap between the three drop slots and fourth from bottom, slipping to a 20-10 away defeat against Old Redcliffians.
The visitors failed to use the pronounced slope to their advantage in the first half, to leave then facing an uphill battle both physically and metaphorically in the second period.
Jack Jolly was unable to slot two penalties in the opening six minutes and the Bees found themselves 7-0 behind at the mid-way point of the first period, after OR’s captain Dan Fry took a nice off load from fly half Kieran Hill to score under the posts.
Old Redcliffians are clearly well versed in managing the slope at Scotland Lane. Their impressive defensive work, combined with an, at times, seemingly over complicated game plan deployed by their visitors, frustrated all Bees’ attacking efforts. A yellow card for Andy Weaver deep into the half after a late block on No.10 Hill failed to improve matters for the Bees. A late penalty from Hill added insult to injury and gave Old Rs a significant 10-point advantage at the break.
To have any chance of getting back into the game, one sensed that the Bees would need to score first in the second period. They set about their work with gusto but, despite being camped on their host’s line for the opening seven minutes of the half, a Jolly penalty was to be their only reward for all their industry.
With a Hill penalty restoring a 10-point lead, the Bees threat slowly but surely ebbed away as ORs used the boot leather and the slope to demoralising effect. An interception try for Hill, who gladly snaffled a looping pass from Bees’ fly half Phillips, snuffed out any lingering hopes of a late rear-guard action from the Midlanders.
To their credit, the Bees had the final word on the scoreboard with a late try for Dan Kelly, successfully converted by Jolly. But the 20-10 defeat meant another pointless return from a game that the men in gold and black could have really done with winning, further compounding the task ahead in 2019.
The second batch of 14 league games in the second half of the season kicks off on 5th January 2019 (KO 2.30pm) with a home game at Portway against another Bristol side, Dings Crusaders.
Bees v Old Redcliffians: 1. Joe Foreman, 2. Stewart Pearl, 3. Nick Bingham, 4. Andy Weaver (YC), 5. Danny Wright, 6. Ashley Scriven, 6. Michael Stephens, 8. Marcus Brown, 9. Jack Jolly (C) (P,C), 10. Ben Phillips. 11 Matt Dight, 12. Nathan Tilsley, 13. Adam Nunney, 14. Dan Kelly (T), 15, Harry O’Brien.
Replacements: 16. Alex Willis, 17. Keanan Cooper, 18. Harry Barnes, 19. Mike Hagan, 20. Mike Ho.
Referee:- Ben Wilde, ARs Steve Hambley & Mark Summerhayes