BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees slipped to their second consecutive defeat in National League Three Midlands after falling short away at Bromsgrove on Saturday.
Bromsgrove just edged out their hosts 14-17 in a tight game at Portway which saw the Bees have a try ruled out right at the death in the final play of the game.
Morning rain had cleared to provide bright but blustery conditions at Portway and the visitors made the most of having the wind on their backs in the first half.
There was just three minutes on the clock when Bromsgrove’s Jon Critchlow scored in the left-hand corner after lock Matt Edgar had created an opening in the centre. The veteran full-back duly converted his own try to give ‘Grove a 0-7 lead.
Parity was restored just two minutes later, with Bees’ No.8 Steve Leach crashing over from close range after a textbook rolling maul from an attacking line out and fly half Scott Harman added the extras.
The men from Junction one of the M42 were ahead once more after 15 minutes. Critchlow was in the thick of things again, this time providing a nice off-load to his wing-man Ollie Baxter who scored in the left-hand corner. And the ever-reliable boot of Critchlow made the score 7-14.
The Bees took the attack to Bromsgrove, with full back Chris Fensome and centre Wayne Child both looking to run the ball from deep.
But with the Bees’ line out misfiring in the wind, Bromsgrove secured a penalty on the stroke of half-time which was sweetly struck by Critchlow to give the Worcestershire side a 10-point lead at the break.
The second half began with the Bees looking to use the elements to their advantage and Bromsgrove soon found themselves down to 14 men when Phil Horton was yellow-carded for handling in the ruck.
However a mixture of intelligent defence and lack of penetration on behalf of the home-side meant that the Bees were unable to capitalise on their numerical superiority.
With Horton off the naughty-step, Bees won a very kickable penalty on 56 minutes but Harman pushed the kick wide and the crowd sensed some early signs of alarm creeping into the home side’s game which was further compounded by a growing number of handling errors.
However, a second yellow card for handling in the ruck this time for Matt Edgar gave the faithful renewed hope and the industrious Steve Leach got his second try of the afternoon with Harman’s kicking mojo refound, the deficit was cut to three points with 12 minutes of the game to go.
However, try as they might, the Bees were unable to add any further points, despite having a number of chances and the final whistle gave Bromsgrove a narrow victory and with it M42 bragging rights.
Ian Matthews’ men will face no lessening of a challenge as they travel to Hinckley this Saturday (3pm).