A TURBULENT season at times ended on a high for Birmingham & Solihull Bees after they beat Newport (Salop) to be crowned winners of the North Midlands Cup in bizarre fasion on Sunday.
With the match ending 20-20 and with cup final rules stating there is no extra time, the contest was decided on the amount of tries scores and Newport lost out by two scored to three.
League form can often go out of the window in cup finals and relegated Newport (Salop) pushed seventh-placed Birmingham & Solihull all the way in a game that was hardly a classic.
Newport winger Liam Holder was first on the score sheet after 11 minutes with a try, that he converted, and it was just reward for the Shropshire side’s early dominance of possession and territory.
A Mitch McGahan penalty allowed Bees to score their first poins of the match but the margin was restored to seven points thanks to the boot of Holder after the Bees’ scrum was penalised in front of the uprights.
The Newport cause was not helped by two yellow cards in quick succession to the influential Henry Vaka and Luke Kendall, but despite their reduced numbers, Newport held on to their 10-3 lead as the half time whistle blew.
With some choice words no doubt ringing in their ears, the Bees started the second half with decidedly more purpose even though they were now playing against a strong warm spring breeze.
The tried and tested driving maul earned captain Chris Goddard his umpteenth try of the season and reduced the deficit to 10-8, with the McGahan conversion askew.
Just as the Bees were looking like they would take the game by the scruff of the neck, an unforced error close to their try line saw Newport’s Steve Byrne profit from the resulting scrum and with Holder adding the regulation extras, the Bees support began to feel decidedly on edge.
A darting score from close range by winger Chris Fensome, successfully converted by McGahan, quelled the travelling supporters’ nerves and reduced the deficit to just two points.
With Newport skipper Jake Goulson shown yellow by referee Neil Chivers, another try from a driving maul– this time from Matt Spink – could have been the cue for the engravers to get their tools at the ready.
The Shropshire side seemingly still had some gas left in the tank though and when the Bees were penalised for a taking a man out without the ball, Holder slotted the kick to draw the sides level at 20-20.
With time nearly up on the clock, a last gasp Mikey Whettell try which would have sealed the victory for the Bees was deemed to be held up and after consultation with the officials, Bees were declared winners.