By Brian Dick
January 16 2007
Pertemps Bees 36 Moseley 25 Rarely can the impact of two hideous errors have been quite so obvious. Moseley lost this match by 11 points after committing two first-half gaffes that cost them 12. As the colloquialism goes, you do the math.
Having made a promising start to this derby — which far exceeded gloomy pre-match predictions of a lacklustre kick-fest — they proceeded to shoot themselves in their collective foot with a pair of mistakes that belonged in the Keystone Cops Guide to Defensive Organisation.
As for most of the match there seemed little between these two rivals until, that is, the eighth minute when home fly-half Brad Davies knocked an innocuous-looking chip behind Moseley wing Nathan Bressington.
The former Bees man turned and fielded with a minimum of fuss but, after apparently receiving a call inside from full-back Ollie Thomas, threw a wild pass back into his own 22.
Thomas and Bees centre Simon Martin cancelled each other out as they attempted to regain possession but Akapusi Qera acted much more decisively, swooping on the loose ball and spinning wide to put Dave Knight in the clear. Davies converted so there’s seven.
Then, having fashioned a short-lived lead through James Rodwell’s opportunistic try and Thomas’ 19th-minute penalty and slipping behind to Knight’s second which made it 14-8, they went and did it again.
Davies hoofed a garryowen with which the visitors should have dealt only for Thomas and Bressington to converge and indulge in a spot of After You Sir.
The kick landed, popped up for Martin who took it in stride and beat James Aston to the line. Inexplicably the conversion was missed but with 12 gift-wrapped points it didn’t matter.
It is difficult not to agree with Ian Smith that the incidents proved to be massively significant: "They had a few individuals in key areas that took good options but those crucial errors — basics really — allowed those players to relax and compose their game," the vanquished head coach said.
"The mistakes let them into the game and gave them the confidence and cushion to sit back and play without pressure." Clearly it’s impossible but take those two cock-ups out and both teams scored three tries.
The critics’ eyes will rest on Thomas, a gifted footballer who played a key part in Moseley’s promotion last season but who has been confined to full-back this year.
The England Counties threequarter is a fly-half by preference and looks ill-suited to the role of defensive last man.
"Should we play a specialist full back? Maybe," said Smith. "We will sit down with Ollie and go through his game and rebuild his confidence.
"Obviously he is highly-skilled but it is having the confidence to apply those skills at the right time. That said it was not all his fault, it was only a couple of errors among many others we made."
Indeed but this team performance was ten times better than the one that earned them last week’s home defeat to Waterloo. Had they played as well then as they did at Sharmans Cross the Blundellsands men would have been annihilated.
Bees’ display was also a vast improvement on the week before when Nottingham racked up half a century.
There were solid if not spectacular contributions throughout their line-up and Smith’s counterpart, Steve Williams, was delighted with the way his side responded to their Meadow Lane farce.
"We were very focused and very controlled," Williams said. "I am very happy with the way the boys played. We didn’t get dragged in to what could have been a difficult game."
But as ever with Pertemps Bees there’s a downside. Five points are on the board but four players are probably out of contention for next week after leaving the pitch with a range of injuries.
Davies pulled his hamstring, Dan Tuohy hurt his neck and props Emyr Lewis and Matt Long trudged off with respective back and calf problems. "What do you call it when you’re already in an injury crisis but pick up a few more?" Williams wondered.
Moseley will be wondering when the next win is coming. The cup match at Cornish Pirates next Sunday looks nothing more than an unwelcome inconvenience and is unlikely to provide the answer and so they must turn their attention to the visit from Otley in a fortnight.
They will need to be much tighter at the back for that one. Scores such as Knight’s and Martin’s cannot be repeated.
Bees will feel similarly about Rodwell’s 12th-minute try. The No 8 intercepted as the home team tried to run it out of defence and weaved his way 20 metres to the line.
The match restarted after the break with Bees leading 19-11, an advantage they stretched 13 minutes into the period when Leo Halavatau touched down at the posts.
Andy Binns responded for 26-18 just after the hour when he gathered Tommy Hayes’ pass on the half volley and arced his way to the corner.
Soon after Rod Petty capped a fine cameo at scrum-half when he was first to reach Jon Goodridge’s chip and Hayes rounded off the scoring when he sneaked down the sideline in the last minute.
BEES: Goodridge; Knight, Davies T, Martin, Nuthall; Davies B (Higgins 46), Spee (Petty 72); Fowkes, Pearl (Miles 60), Long (Lewis 15, Lynch 70), Davidson (Gabey 62), Cornwell, Tuohy (Miller 44), Qera, Halavatau.