Lack of composure in key moments costs the Bees dear again
By Richard Smith
32-15 defeat leaves Bees at the foot of the table
Another loss in the gathering Hertfordshire gloom did little to raise the spirits, as the Bees came out second best to Old Albanian in a contest which was there for the taking, had the visitors been more composed in key moments of the game.
Performing to a now familiar script, the Bees found themselves 17 points down after 22 minutes before they shook off their coach-lag from the journey down to the Woollams, a facility that Old Albanian share with Saracens just outside St. Albans.
It was defensive lapses that allowed OA’s to notch up two early tries – the first for burly No.8 Chris West after 13 minutes, with fly half Tom Bednall also finding a little too much space on the 22-minute mark. Centre Dan Watt was on target with both conversions, to add to his 7th minute penalty, helping OA’s to a commanding 17-0 lead.
Despite losing Michael Stephens to concussion early on, the Bees pack finally found its stride, Stewart Pearl adding to his impressive try tally this season after 28 minutes. The conversion by Jolly pegged the score back to 17-7 and with OA’s loose head Harry Morgan sin binned with 7 minutes of the first period to go, the Bees had a real opportunity to get back on terms at the break.
Yet two clear chances went begging and OA’s would have been relived to head off at the halfway stage with a 10-point cushion still intact.
With the second half underway, the Bees seemed to have got the measure of OAs and were playing patiently through the phases. Jolly’s 11th minute penalty fell short but Luke Smith was on hand to finish off a try a minute later, after a barnstorming run from the front of the line out from birthday boy Matt Spink.
Although Hagan, who had taken over the kicking duties from his skipper, couldn’t add the extras, the visitors looked as though they could be in right back in the mix.
Frustratingly for coaching staff and supporters alike, the men in gold and black failed to find the clinical finishing required to get themselves ahead. Debutant winger Mike Ho went close, but priceless chances were going begging. The sense of growing frustration also manifested itself on the pitch in the form of a yellow card for Danny Wright, making a welcome return to the fold after his recent illness.
Watt adroitly slotted over the 3 points on offer from the resultant penalty and, even though Hagan narrowed the deficit to just 5 points again with a long-range effort, one felt the visitors’ challenge was beginning to run out of stream. Two late tries and a further conversion for Watt with the last kick of the game confirmed that view and for the second week running the Bees were left without the consolation of a losing bonus point for their industry.
Whilst clearly able to compete up front in the forwards, the lack of fluidity or cutting edge in the back division will probably be front of Pete Glackin’s mind, as he mulls over his side’s position in the National League 2 South table over his Sunday morning breakfast.
With London Irish Wild Geese taking the spoils on their visit to Guernsey, they leap frog above the Bees at the foot of the table. His side have a home tie against Bury St Edmunds this weekend (Saturday 1st December KO 2.30pm), who themselves are hardly enjoying a purple patch of form in recent weeks.
Bees v Old Albanian: 1. Nick Bingham, 2. Stewart Pearl (T), 3. Matt Probert, 4. Matt Spink, 5. Andy Weaver, 6.Danny Wright (YC) , 7. Michael Stephens, 8. Umraan Jadwat, 9. Mike Hagan (P), 10. Jack Jolly (C), 11 Mike Ho, 12. Nathan Tilsley, 13. Dan Kelly, 14.Luke Smith (T), 15 Corey Venus.
Replacements: 16.Joe Foreman, 17. Zane Raimondi, 18. Ashley Scriven, 19. Marcus Brown, 20. Ben Phillips.
Referee:- Robert Bourke, ARs Andy Green and Matthew Todd.