A DIFFICULT week off the pitch did not deter Birmingham & Solihull Bees on it after they produced a performance full of character to secure a hard fought 23-19 win on the road at Lichfield.
Despite the departure of director of rugby Ian Matthews last week, the Bees came away with four important league points to get their inconsistent season back on track.
Lichfield dominated the opening quarter of this National League Three Midlands encounter and were ahead inside three minutes when imposing lock forward Matt Corley was driven over the line and fly half Luke Massey made it 7-0 from the conversion.
A Bees scrum was rewarded with a penalty four minutes later which allowed Mitch McGahan to get the visitors on the scoreboard, however Lichfield continued to dominate possession and position, while their line speed in defence was disrupting what little ball the visitors had.
A loss in possession at the breakdown led to Lichfield’s second try in the 17th minute with centre Paul Maxell-Keys chipping through and touching down to the delight of the home support and Massey landed the extras for a 14-3 lead.
Bees eventually began to find their feet and their efforts were rewarded when Matt Tibbatts scored following a driving maul but McGahan put the conversion wide to make it 14-8 at the break.
With ex-Gloucester duo Paul Williams and Dave Spencer stepping into the breach as the Bees’ interim coaching team, there was no doubt the half time team talk majored on a more ‘stick it up your jumper’ orientated approach in the second half.
And if that was the case, it certainly was effective as Chris Goddard scored two tries in the second period from driving mauls the second a carbon copy of the first.
The skipper’s first try came on 52 minutes from an attacking line out created after some aggressive defence by Bees’ right winger Alex O’Malley.
However, it was not to be all hunky dory for the Bees and Lichfield showed that their boys were still swinging by restoring their lead nine minutes later through replacement winger Chris Milner.
Given the recent history of coming out second best in tight games, it was particularly pleasing from a travelling supporters’ point of view that the men in yellow jerseys did not let their heads drop.
Instead they continued to opt for a patient approach that was to lead to the second Goddard try in the 63rd minute and when McGahan kicked a penalty 12 minutes later to give the visitors an important four-point margin at 19-23, it seemed that the men from Portway were home and dry.
Yet poor decision making and poor execution combined to keep the door ajar for the home side and had Lichfield not coughed up the ball on their oppositions line in the last play of the game, all the good work of the afternoon could have easily been undone.
Bees will be looking to further build upon when they entertain Longton at Portway on Saturday (2.15pm).