BIRMINGHAM and Solihull Bees suffered another frustrating afternoon as they succumbed to their eighth league defeat at the hands of Henley Hawks, losing 24-15.
Despite being 3-0 down to a Jack Jolly penalty after 12 minutes, Hawks looked to have spiked their hosts’ guns with a competent first half performance which saw them dominate possession and territory and notch up two converted tries, both of which were scored whilst prop Nick Bingham was in the sin-bin.
Winger Liam O’Neill darted over in the right-hand corner with 32 minutes on the clock after several attacking scrums which had led to the Bingham yellow card.
Four minutes later his brother Ryan, playing at inside centre, strolled through the Bees back line for an all too easy score.
Successful conversions by Liam O’Neill gave the visitors a 14-3 advantage at the break.
The Bees were guilty of yielding up what limited ball they were allowed in the first half, but to their credit they were defensively robust in the first period.
When Henley were first on the scoreboard just three minutes in from the restart, thanks to a catch and drive try for No.8 Alex Bradley, it seemed that the fate of the game could quickly be sealed.
Yet with fresh legs off the bench in the shape of the evergreen Stewart Peal and flanker Michael Stephens, the Bees got out of third gear and took the game to the Hawks.
An Umraan Jadwat try reduced the deficit to 19-8 and with the Henley tight head sent to the bin, the Bees capitalised with a second try in as many matches for scrum half Mike Hagan.
Jolly was successful with the conversion and the Bees were right back in contention at 19-15 with 15 minutes to go.
Henley rode their luck, though, and a speculative kick through and a lucky bounce gave full back Sam Randle what was to prove to be the decisive score, extending the lead to 24-15.
Despite losing Dave Manning, with the referee issuing him his marching orders after a second yellow, Henley were home and hosed with a bonus point win in the bag, denying their hosts a crumb of comfort in the shape of a losing bonus point for their efforts.
The defeat keeps the Bees just one place off the bottom of National League Two South ahead of Saturday’s trip to Old Albanian.