RUGBY UNION: A FOURTH win in a row has pushed Birmingham & Solihull Bees up to fourth in the National League Three Midlands division as they produced a solid team performance to beat hosts Sandbach 39-22.
The Cheshire side had the slope to their advantage in the first half and got themselves on the scoreboard within three minutes courtesy of a try from prop forward Jake Percival, with the touchline conversion deftly put over the posts by fly half Benny Elliot.
Despite this early setback, patient play soon earned the Bees a penalty, which Jack Jolly duly slotted – the first instalment of an assured kicking display from tee and boot from the Bees’ scrum half.
An injury to centre Mikey Whettell meant some reshuffling in the backline was required, with Charlie Mumford coming off the bench to play at scrum half and Jolly moving to 10.
Mumford was soon to make an impact, with a fine break creating an opportunity for Ben Phillips in the centre. The youngster used his pace and strength to score his first of two tries on the 20-minute mark.
The Bees further extended their lead just seven minutes later, with Jolly spotting a gap in the Sandbach defence after some good work from lock Andrew Weaver and full back Chris Fensome. The stand in stand-off also duly added his second conversion to open up a 17-7 lead.
An Elliot penalty cut the lead to seven points, however good defensive organisation and a certain degree of profligacy in ball retention meant the home side were unable to narrow the deficit further before the break.
The beginning of the second half showed no let-up in intensity from either of the evenly matched sides and parity in the scoreline was achieved six minutes in thanks to a well taken try by winger Billy Seddon, after an incisive break from centre Jack Leech. Elliot added the regulation extras.
This, combined with a yellow card for Bees’ No.8 Danny Wright for a high tackle, could have been the launchpad for a Sandbach counter-offensive.
However, no points were conceded in this period and indeed a Jolly penalty put the visitors’ noses just in front.
With Wright restored and replacement Matt Spink also on the field to give the tireless Ashley Scriven a breather, the Bees had the look of a side wanting to put this game beyond the reach of their hosts.
Good build-up in the phases and the impact of Spink soon created space for Mumford to show his pace and guile to add a third try under the sticks. This was soon followed by the all-important bonus point score from Phillips, again successfully converted by Jolly.
Sandbach to their credit never gave up the chase as they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at an unyielding Bees defence. Their endeavours were eventually rewarded when Leech won the race to the line from a well weighed kick through from his fly half.
Fittingly it was the Bees who would have the final word, with Spink crashing over at near range to complete a highly satisfactory afternoon’s work.
Bees are 13 points behind leaders Sheffield but will have the opportunity to chip away at that deficit on Saturday (2.15pm) when they welcome the South Yorkshire side to Portway.