BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees sounded their league campaign with an impressive win against Syston in a game dominated by the referee’s yellow card.
Despite being reduced to 12 players for part of the second half, the Bees signed off their league campaign with an impressive 9-19 victory against fifth placed Syston.
Playing against the elements on a unseasonably cold April afternoon in Leicestershire, the Bees secured a 9-13 lead at the break thanks to a Matt Spink try, along with two penalties and a conversion by the ever-reliable Mitch McGahan.
But Syston had dominated the early exchanges and looked well organised in both attack and defence and had edged themselves into a 9-6 lead thanks to two penalties and a drop goal from their lively fly half.
Yet the Bees never let their hosts take control and the pressure exerted by their industrious forwards – which included scrum half Marty Hooker playing at open side flanker for the stricken Darren Forder – began to take its toll.
Syston’s cause was not helped after 25 minutes when they lost their blindside flanker to the sin bin after an altercation with returning Hungarian international prop Dan Toth.
With 34 minutes on the clock, a darting run by centre Jimmy Oliver created space for his full back Alex O’Malley. The tackle by his opposition No.15 was adjudged to be high and was shown a yellow card.
Sensing their opportunity with Syston reduced to thirteen players, the penalty kick to touch allowed the Bees’ pack to show just how effective their driving maul can be, with Spink the beneficiary.
With the Bees ahead at the break, the wind now behind their backs and their opponents still reduced to 14 men, the stage was set for the men in golden yellow to take the game by the scruff of its neck.
However three yellow cards for Spink, Arron Wilson and hooker Zane Raimondi between the 56th and 63rd minute suddenly put a very different complexion on the game.
Yet this then prompted Willy & Spanner’s charges, aided by sage replacement No.8, Matt Tibbatts, to put on one of the most impressive defensive displays of the season.
Indeed, they turned defence into attack and created two penalty chances. The first was pushed wide but the second, which earned Syston loose head prop a yellow card in the process, was slotted home by Kiwi-kicker McGahan to extend the lead to 9-16.
With the Bees progressively restored to a full complement of players it was now increasingly looking like a game that was only going one way.
When the Syston full back unintentionally took replacement winger Luke Fitzgerald out in the air McGahan once again slotted the penalty kick to seal the 9-19 win.
As well as avenging the 24-32 defeat against Syston at Portway in the very first game of the season, the win cemented a creditable seventh place for the Bees in the National League 3 Midland table.
The Bees do however still have unfinished business in the North Midlands Cup with their semi-final against Old Halesonians taking place this Friday.