RUGBY UNION: BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees shook off a lacklustre first half performance by scoring 27 unanswered points in the second period to run out comfortable winners against Old Halesonians, writes Richard Smith.
When the home side trotted into the changing room 3-13 down, they could justifiably expect some stern words to accompany their half time cup of tea.
A big physical side with plenty of pace in the backs, Old Halesonians had dominated virtually every aspect of the first 40 minutes of the game and could have been further to the good, had former Bee Ian Briggs slotted all the points on offer from the kicking tee.
Having missed an opportunity just four minutes in, the Old Hales’ full back opened his account after 13 minutes with a well struck penalty.
His side were ten points to the good seven minutes later, when sturdy fly half Chris Hooper benefited from a good break from his open side flanker and substandard work from the Bees defensive line.
Briggs atoned for his conversion miss with a penalty kick on the 22-minute mark, but the lead was pegged back with a Jack Jolly penalty for the visitors after 30 minutes. With prop Joe Foreman shown a yellow card just before the break for an illegal clear out in the ruck, the Bees would consider themselves fortunate to just be 10 points adrift at the break, given the territory and possession stats in the first period.
The second half saw no immediate reversal in fortunes, as the 14 man Bees defended valiantly against an Old Hales’ side clearly intent on avenging the defeat at Wassell Grove earlier on in the season.
Restored to full strength and with another Jolly penalty narrowing the deficit after 14 minutes, the Bees finally made their move.
Young winger Matt Dight – making his first senior start – was denied an impressive debut try with his boot flagged as just in touch in the tackle. Lock forward Andy Weaver, who was by now dominating proceedings at the line out, continued to lead the attack and was stopped just short of the Old Hales’ line. Referee Dave Huson decided that Briggs hadn’t rolled way in the tackle and was directed to the sin bin.
Several forward drives from the ensuing line out resulted in a try from close range for skipper Chris Goddard, duly converted by Jolly, to draw the scores level with 23 minutes on the clock.
With the heavy duty Old Hales pack now tiring and the Bees youthful backs beginning to move the ball around, the tide had seemingly turned in the contest. The ever-energetic Bees’ hooker Zane Raimondi crashed over for a second try, which again was adroitly converted by Jolly.
The Bees scrum half rounded off another excellent personal performance and points tally with a penalty and a well taken try and conversion in the final play of the game. A praiseworthy second half come-back was duly completed – the win keeping the Bees in fifth place in the league, with promotion still a mathematical, albeit unlikely, possibility.
The Bees take a break from league action this weekend when they welcome Bournville to Portway for the semi-final of the North Midlands Cup (March 17, KO 7.45pm).