A TIGHT encounter saw Birmingham & Solihull Bees lose 10-8 at Old Halesonians in National League Three despite their opponents being reduced to 13 players.
The Bees went into Saturday’s clash with their tails up following four consecutive wins, but overcoming a doughty Old Hales side sitting in third spot in the league, was always going to be a big ask.
The visitors’ cause was not helped when they conceded a try in the sixth minute with in-form winger Joe Oxford finishing a good move by the backs in the top left corner and fly half Ollie Rayner was successful with the conversion.
Despite playing up the slope and against the wind, the Bees had the majority of both possession and territory for the bulk of the remaining half, but try as they might, they could not break down the dogged old Hales defence.
The error count was high from both sides, partially excusable given the conditions and the Bees would have been frustrated by the amount of ball that they turned over.
Just before half time, Old Hales regained the momentum and won a kickable penalty, which was duly dispatched by the reliable boot of Rayner to give the home side a 10-0 advantage.
The first quarter of the second half was all Bees but, despite at one point shoving the home scrum back 15 metres and eventually winning a penalty, old Hales remained 10 points ahead.
The Halesonians’ dam eventually broke after 70 minutes when hooker Zane Raimondi went over from close range after another Bees driving maul but McGahan was unable to add the extras and the deficit was reduced to five points.
With the Bees continuing to play a rather narrow style of rugby, it seemed like the tide might be turning especially when Old Hales lost two players to the sin bin in quick succession.
But despite reduced numbers, Old Hales drew upon all their stamina and mental resources to hold out and, with O’Malley just pipped to the touchdown after his chip and chase in the dying seconds, the win was theirs.
This weekend Bees will be hoping to make a return to winning ways when they entertain Old Northamptonians at Portway.