BIRMINGHAM & Solihull Bees almost pulled off a remarkable result at Bromsgrove after being narrowly edged out 32-27 despite being reduced to 14 men in what was a breathless local derby, reports Lou Lupoli.
If the past two encounters between these two sides was anything to go by, this game promised to be a Christmas Cracker and the proved to be the case again.
However when Mikey Whettle was shown a red card just four minutes into the game, the travelling supporters would have been forgiven if their optimism had suddenly turned hope into a sense of foreboding.
The Bees’ centre was adjudged by referee Nick Marshall to have lifted his opposite number’s legs above the horizontal in the tackle, and issued Whettle with a red card. From the ensuing penalty, James Upton slotted the penalty to make it 3-0.
However, if the home side thought that they were in for an easy day, Bees had other ideas.
The first try of the match for the visitors came on nine minutes when fly half Mitch McGahan dummied the attempted charge down and accelerated through the space created, recovering his own chip over the last line of defence and was bought down just a couple of meters from the Boars line by the covering defence. The ball squirted out and Sam Davenport was the quickest to react to dot the ball over the line, making the score 3-5.
The home side then squandered three guilt edged opportunities before the Bees enjoyed a period of possession where they patiently went through the phases before Jimmy OIiver went over for 3-10.
The blustery conditions were making it very difficult for McGahan to get his radar set on his kicks to the post but five minutes later they were 12 points in front.
Bromsgrove winger Ollie Bache made mistake by his own try line whch allowed Aaron Wilson to cross the whitewash and scored a third try of the match for the Bees.
The try sparked the hosts into life and they were soon back in the game when Upton executed a cross-field kick which was expertly caught and scored by winer Bache shortly after the half-hour mark.
There followed a period of attrition for the Bees defence with Bromsgrove putting them under huge pressure.
With only a minute left in the half it seemed that Bees had soaked up all that the home side could throw at them but Bromsgrove scrum half Adam Whiteman managed to extricate the ball from a scrum and force himself over the line to make it 15-15.
The second half started with Bromsgrove coming out the stronger of the two sides and two tries by Gino Belmonte Ed Spalding, both of which were converted edged the hosts 29-15 in front.
But if the Bromsgrove supporters felt that had put the contest to bed they were mistaken.
The men from Finstall Park managed to soak up all that was a thrown at them until the 62nd minute when followining a series of comtrolled pick and drives Matt Tibbatts crossed and McGahan added the extras for 29-22.
The Bees continued to pressure the home side and after Bromsgrove replacement Liam Marshall was yellow-carded for a late tackle on Wilson, winger Davenport sprinted to the corner to score and the deficit was cut to just two points.
But shortly after the re-start Bromsgrove were awarded a penalty which Upton slotted home for 32-27 and the hosts were able to run down the clock for a win.