RUGBY UNION: LOCAL derbies often produce tight games and Saturday’s clash between Old Halesonians and Birmingham & Solihull Bees proved to be no different with the visitors prevailing 5-8.
Playing against an Old Hales’ side that featured no less than five former Bees, the current crop of players produced a defensive tour de force to overcome a powerful side that had the majority of possession and territorial advantage for the majority of the game.
The half time score line was 0-0, but that statistic hid the fact that the home side missed four penalty chances of varying degrees of difficulty in the first period.
It also didn’t reflect the number of unforced errors made by both sides, as neither the Bees nor Old Hales could stamp their authority on the game.
With Jack Jolly forced to take his now regular ten minute cooling off period in the sin bin, Old Hales seemingly had the opportunity to gain the ascendency at the start of the second period.
Yet it was the Bees that took the game by the scruff of the neck with debutant Callum MacBurnie showing glimpses of the class that has previously earned him U20 honours with Scotland.
Old Hales themselves went down to 14 men with former Bees’ winger Luke Smith earning a yellow, but the see-saw nature of the game had the home side on the attack again, with another penalty opportunity for Chris Hooper.
Still the full back’s wretched afternoon from the kicking tee was to continue – by contrast the recently restored Jolly broke the deadlock at the first opportunity, 13 minutes into the second half.
The Bees stretched their lead five minutes later with a well taken try from fly half Max Rodman, set up by a sweet offload from No.8 Matt Tibbatts.
The final 25 minutes then settled into a pattern of relentless Old Hales attacking play, met with resolute Bees’ defence.
Old Hales narrowed the deficit to three points with a forward’s try from a line out, which fly half and ex Bee Ian Briggs failed to convert.
Yet despite all their possession, all the kickable penalties spurned and playing the last five minutes against 14 men the hosts couldn’t cross the whitewash.
Winger Jay Reid seemed destined to snatch the win in the final play of the game in the left hand corner, but he butchered the opportunity with an over flamboyant dive, knocking on in the process.
Peterborough Lions are next up for the Bees at Portway this Saturday (2.15pm).