BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees have been crowned champions of the Midlands Premier division after edging a thrilling contest against Peterborough Lions at Solstice Park.
The game had all the ingredients of an epic encounter and – much to the credit of both sides – it didn’t disappoint, with a heady mix of high intensity rugby and high drama right up to the final kick of a nerve-shredding 80 minutes.
Peterborough drew first blood courtesy of a well taken try from fly half Ben Youngs with kicker Nico Defeo adding the easy extras to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.
The Bees levelled six minutes later, thanks to a Matt Spink try and conversion by skipper Jack Jolly.
That was to be the full extent of points posted by either side in the first half, despite the Bees looking to capitalise on the momentum that their first score had given them.
Even with tight head Chris Cutts shown yellow, Peterborough managed to ride out the storm until the half time whistle.
However, the Bees were able to profit from their numerical advantage within three minutes of the restart, thanks to a try from blindside flanker Danny Wright.
Jolly missed the conversion as Bees moved 12-7 ahead.
But Lions hit back with a Defeo penalty reducing the deficit to two points before a try from Tom Gullard put the hosts ahead.
Matters went from bad to worse for the Bees when Semisi Sitanislei Tei finished off a nice move but Defeo was unable to add the extras, something he would come to rue.
Knowing a draw would be good enough to secure the league crown, Jolly wisely opted for and assuredly put over a mid-range penalty to bring his side within an unconverted try’s length of parity.
With all the action now in the Lion’s 22, a trademark catch and drive from a 20m line out yielded a penalty try at the death for the near-jubilant Bees.
But the drama was far from over when from the restart Lions were awarded a penalty only for Defeo to kick it agonisingly wide to secure a first promotion in nine years for the Bees.
Bees entertain Sandbach tomorrow (Saturday).