EDF ENERGY TROPHY: Pertemps Bees 25 Nuneaton 9
Pertemps Bees are safely through to a quarter final tie at National One rivals Newbury with a three tries to none victory over mid-table National Two Nuneaton, but only settled the issue in the last ten minutes when Tristan Prosser-Shaw was sin binned.
With three loan players unavailable and captain Mark Cornwell and Akapusi Qera resting on the bench, Bees were well-contained by Nuns' far smaller forwards and their performance was littered with handling errors.
Bees head coach Steve Williams said: "We will not often play so badly and win. Nuneaton made it difficult for us and we made a lot of mistakes, but showed character in finishing strongly.''
Without injured full back Jon Lowdon and Prosser-Shaw, a flanker, in the centre, Nuns were unable to get the ball wide where 18-year-old Tom Southall made his first start and prolific 19-year-old Lee Parry returned from hamstring injury only to suffer a recurrence. Nuns took a fifth-minute lead with a first of Gareth Cull's three penalty goals and were more than a match for Bees at set pieces of scrum and line-out, even when down to seven forwards.
However that 20-yard penalty line out drive after 13 minutes produced Bees' first try as release left, then right, and further probing put Mark Gaby over and Jon Higgins added the extra points.
Higgins could not convert when Matt Nuthall got Bees second try wide out after a quick scrummage strike 30 yards in front of the post shot ten yards back, but was rescued by Reece Spee, who broke in an arc to the corner.
Cull's second penalty made it 12-6 to Bees at half time, he added his third after 47 minutes and on the hour could have equalised had his 43-yard effort not drifted narrowly wide.
By then Bees had brought on cavalry in the form of Cornwell and Qera, began to find more cohesion and bite and Higgins opened the gap to six points again when Nuns handled in a rut.
With 12 minutes remaining Prosser-Shaw was sidelined for killing ball on the ground. Higgins put over the resultant penalty and two minutes later converted when Will Matthew's deft, quick pass sent Matt Miles scurrying in from 25 yards.
Bees might have then scored twice more but for forward passes leaving Nuns director of rugby Paul Westgate to lament: "We competed strongly for more than an hour, Cull failed narrowly, Higgins kicked on and we were done for when Prosser-Shaw was carded.''
''We can't complain since Simon Brocklehurst was warned loudly for the same offence minutes before.
"But we are ambitious for National One rugby and our conversion to a stadium will be completed by next season,'' he added.
BEES: Nuthall; Billig; Martin; Palm (Henderson 78); Higgins; Spee (Petty 42); Long; Miles; Lynch (Linnett 75); Gaby (Cornwell 53); Davidson; Halavatua; Matthews (Rawlins 75); George (Qera 60).
NUNEATON: Peacock; Southall (Parry HT, H Thomas 78); Brocklehurst; Prosser-Shaw (Short 82); Owens; Cull; Wright; G Thomas; Gibson (Bray 67); Boulton; Aston (Pearson HT); Shaw; James; Munro (Howgate 78); Southwell
Referee: Mr D Newitt (RFU)