NATIONAL LEAGUE ONE: Pertemps Bees 10 Nottingham 12

Perhaps it was the winning bit that threw them. Pertemps Bees deep in injury time, leading 10-5, had possession and merely had to keep it to score their fourth win of the season.

Territory, entertaining the crowds, adding another score did not matter. It was stick it up your jumper time, pick and drive and grind down the clock.

Instead panic set in and possession was kicked away.

A modest Nottingham outfit, surprisingly sitting third in National One, were already resigned to defeat by the bottom club in the league. Their body language said it, the water carriers packing up bottles and support staff collecting stretchers and bags said it. But then Bees presented them with one last chance and they grabbed it with both hands.

Powder puff tackling saw them move the ball into the left corner on Bees' line and then a succession of drives kept the ball and game alive to finally see skipper and back row Craig Hammond driven over to level the scores with almost 90 minutes on the clock. Winger David Jackson, 15 metres or so in, slotted over the conversion and referee Nick Williams blew time on what could well be Pertemps Bees' stay in National One.

Victory at then bottom Launceston last week coupled with a win against Nottingham would have seen them two points behind third bottom Sedgley Park, breathing down their necks.

But they lost both and with Exeter, in second, and Northampton, the leaders, the next two opponents that gap between Bees and safety is unlikely to grow any smaller any time soon.

Nottingham went ahead after a series of drives in the 12th minute when hooker Joe Duffey was forced over in the left corner for an unconverted try.

Bees battled back and managed 23 phases battering the Nottingham line midway through the half without reward before a break through the middle with 25 minutes gone saw centre Mitch Culpin go over under the posts and fly half Jon Higgins put Bees in the lead 7-5.

Bees had their chances to improve on that but when Higgins made it 10-5 with two minutes of normal time to go it was time for Bees' fans to relax while Nottingham fans complained bitterly about the referee.

Bees just had to keep the ball and for a while did just that, hardly moving from the centre of the halfway line. Surely if that had continued they would have coaxed a penalty out of a frustrated Nottingham.

But possession was lost twice only to be regained twice and then kicked away a third time.

Coach Russell Earnshaw, back from his coaching stint with England Sevens, looked shell shocked. "Forty-five seconds to go and we give the ball away to the opposition," he said.

"And we didn't defend like we had for the first 79 minutes. Fair play to them. They played well at the end and we did not defend. You reap what you sow.

"I am not patting anyone on the back and saying well played. Nottingham are third in the league but they are no better than us. People say you don't know whether to laugh or cry. I know which one I want to do at the moment.

"I was frustrated when I heard guys, with about two minutes to go, asking the ref how long was left. Get your head on the game and we will win it.

"It is no one else's fault. It is not the ref's fault, not the opposition's fault, not the weather's fault the boys have got a week off and they need to have a look at themselves."

PERTEMPS BEES: Spee, Vakacegu, Culpin, D Knight (Maggs, 59), Uche, Higgins, P Knight (Griffiths, 63); Long, Bick (Pearl, 40), Reddlinghuys, Davidson (Gabey, 47), Uakazuwaka, Matthews, Earnshaw, McComb. Replacements: Osbourn, Mitchell, Preece.
NOTTINGHAM: Nirmalendran, Kay, Smith, Dodge (Hayter, 47), Jackson, Thompson, Usaz (Pilgrim, 63); Parr, Duffey (Loney, 53), Hopkins (Hall, 53), Rouse (Rouse, 76), Raven (Stannard, 53), Hammond, Sheriff, Montagu. Replacement: Hurrell.