BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees came agonisingly close to ending Scunthorpe’s 16-game unbeaten run after losing by just one point in what was interim coach Paul Williams’ first game in charge.
Williams’ side took the home side all the way but eventually lost out 17-16 following a match that could have gone either way.
In the early exchanges the Bees seemed to have got the measure of Scunthorpe and Mitch McGahan landed the first of three first half penalties after just three minutes to give his side an early lead.
All the early good work was undone however in a 15 minute spell which saw Scunthorpe put three tries on the scoreboard in quick succession.
Fly half Steve Johnson showed his pace to glide in for the first, with his No.8 Kieran Bournes touching down for the the second and a third try was claimed by blindside flanker Jake Barron.
Even though Steve Johnson only managed to slot one of the three conversions, the Bees found themselves 17-3 down with just 20 minutes on the clock.
To their credit, the visitors steadied the ship and with a heavy duty pack to a man putting in an excellent work-rate, assisted by some good tackling notably in the centre by Brian Sibiya, they clawed the score line back to 17-9 at the break courtesy of McGahan’s boot.
With no doubt a few choice half time words from coaching duo Willy & Spanner ringing in their ears and the introduction of Matt Tibbatts from the subs bench, the Bees started the second period looking like a side who believed this game was still there for the taking.
Within six minutes they had narrowed the deficit to just one point when Chris Goddard profited from an well-executed driving maul from an attacking line out.
With their tails now well and truly up, the men in golden-yellow piled the pressure on the Scunthorpe line with a series of forward-led assaults.
However, just as had been the case in the corresponding fixture earlier on in the season, the Green’s defence was resolute and disciplined.
Such was the pressure applied that it was to be the 65th minute of the second half that Scunthorpe got into their opponents’ half.
With momentum shifting back in the home side’s favour, they spurned two kickable penalties to instead look for the try bonus point from attacking line outs. It was the Bees’ turn to show their defensive qualities, showing an admirable level of determination of fitness to keep the score line locked at 17-16.
When the final whistle blew, Scunthorpe looked more than relieved that their promotion push hadn’t been spoiled by their combative visitors.