23rd Oct, 2016

Birmingham & Solihull Bees leave it late to beat league newbies Bedford

Steve Carpenter 12th Sep, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

TRIES from Chris Fensome and Matt Spink in the last quarter of the game earned Bees their first win of the season against newly promoted Bedford Athletic in the National League 3 Midlands, reports Steve Johns.

The Bees were eager to build on their 16-16 draw at Syston the week before and provided an all-round performance that was too strong for their visitors as they ran out 22-10 winners.

Bees’ fly half Mitch McGahan opened the scoring with a penalty after a period of sustained pressure.

Last season Bedford picked up 17 four-try bonus points, and they certainly showed the ambition of a side capable of this. On two occasions midway through the first half they made huge inroads into the Bees defence and showed why they were featured as Rugby World magazine’s ‘team of the month’ for February.

From a right-hand scrum, a crisp set play sent Bedford right winger Stephen Woodhead scything though the Bees midfield and under the posts. The conversion from James Mortimer was soon followed by a sweetly struck drop goal, which took the score to 3-10 in Bedford’s favour.

Spurred on by their home support, Bees established field position in the opposition 22 after committed tackling from Mikey Whettell led to notable carries from the imposing figures of Danny Wright and Matt Tibbatts. From a scrum 5 metres out, a powerful 8-man shove was deemed to be too strong for Bedford to legally halt, prompting referee James Bullock to run under the posts to award a penalty try. McGahan added the simple conversion, meaning both sides went in for half time with the score at 10-10.

Early in the second half Bees made an enforced change with the injured Mitch McGahan being replaced by debutant fly half Max Rodman. The youngster made immediate an impact with his willingness to run the ball, setting a platform for the Bees pack to run on to. Not perturbed by his penalty attempt from distance hitting the post, Rodman produced an excellent outside break and duly drew the Bedford fullback to put Chris Fensome in for a try in the right hand corner, which Rodman impressively converted.

A clash of heads resulted in Bees’ winger Tawanda Chipadza being replaced by the reintroduced Matt Tibbatts, who played at centre for the remainder of the game.

With the score now 17-10 in Bees’ favour, Bedford managed to turn over a lot of ball, with prominent defensive work by openside flanker Jake Foster and centre JJ Raven. This resulted in opportunities for Bedford fly half James Mortimer and full back Charlie Darlow to run the ball back at a disorganised Bees defence with courageous counter-attacking flair.

However, Bees regrouped and produced the try of the match that went through seven pairs of hands and travelled over half the length of the pitch. A clearance kick from Bedford was fielded by Bees’ Chris Fensome, and was transferred via captain Chris Goddard to Dan Barratt, this week at inside centre, on the right hand side of the pitch on the halfway line. The strong-running Barratt set a platform from which industrious scrum half Charlie Mumford fed Ashley Scriven and then Matt Spink, who gallantly dived over from close range. The conversion was narrowly missed, but the home side were able to hold on to their 12 unanswered second half points.

The squad should be in high spirits as they make their preparations to travel to another newly promoted side – Towcestrians – this Saturday.