Birmingham & Solihull 28 Stockport 9
THE Bees notched up a welcome first win of the season against Stockport, despite a tentative first half performance.
On a dull yet warm and humid afternoon, the Portway side went into the half time break 7-6 up with a score line that was rather flattering to the home side.
The visitors took a 6-0 lead thanks to two Josh Longmore penalties and, with the combination of good defensive organisation and a superior performance at the scrum, kept play in the Bees territory for the majority of the opening 30 minutes.
Indeed it was only a Stockport error that led to the Bees try – Dai Evans pouncing on spilled ball when centre Elliot Fletcher was well tackled. Ever the opportunist, the Bees’ Welsh winger finished well from 30 metres out, too quick for stand-in Stockport winger Simon Green who had dropped from No.8 to the cover for the injured Myles Hall. Canning added the extras to give the Bees a narrow lead at the break.
Bees started the second period with more purpose than they had shown in the first, no doubt keen to shake off the lacklustre performance of a largely forgettable first 40 minutes.
It was another Stockport error that led to the Bees’ second try. This time it was the turn of right wing Alex O’Malley to capitalize on loose ball at the base of the scrum – picking up and darting over from 10 metres out. With the increasingly dependable boot of Adam Canning adding the conversion, the Bees were finally shaking off the shackles of uncertainty as they took at 14-6 lead.
A third penalty for Josh Longmore after 20 minutes suggested that the north west side were not out of the game yet and, given the Bees’ recent history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Portway faithful could be forgiven for fearing a potential wobble.
Those fears were to prove unfounded and just as the sun began to shine, so too the Bees rounded off what in the end was a comfortable victory thanks to two further and well engineered tries – firstly for replacement No.8 Steve Leach and then full back Chris Carlin – both converted by Canning.
This was despite finishing the game with 14 men, when referee MacGaffney finally lost patience with Bees scrum half Jack Jolly and sent him to the sin bin for persistent feeding at the scrum.
The bonus win puts the Bees up into eighth place in the NLN2 table, although they will face the difficult task of travelling away to high-flying Ampthill next week, who have taken a maximum 15 points from their first three games of the season.