Birmingham & Solihull 23 Otley 25
A LAST-GASP Stephen Depledge penalty consigned Bees to an agonising defeat in their opening game of the National League Two North season at home to Otley on Saturday.
The home side struggled to get into their stride and conceded three tries in the process, while Otley had the better of the early exchanges.
Bees’ fly half Adam Canning put a penalty attempt wide after eight minutes but he atoned for his mistake two minutes later with a nearer range effort.
The visitors were rewarded after 15 minutes when open side flanker Jamie Sutton dived over from near range after a catch and drive from a ten-metre lineout, allowing Depledge to open his account with the conversion, giving the men from Yorkshire a 3-7 advantage.
Otley were operating as a more effective unit than the home side and Depledge added to his points tally with a self-converted try after 27 minutes.
A second Canning penalty pegged the score back to 6-12 and it looked like the Bees’ rolling maul was beginning to gain a degree of traction.
However, home hopes were dashed when Jack Scott crossed the whitewash for Otley’s third try after some good back play on the right wing.
The conversion extended the score line to 6-19 but the Bees responded immediately with a close range try from captain Chris Goddard.
The Bees began the second half with more purpose than they had shown in the first and were on the scoresheet after seven minutes, with another try from Goddard who peeled off a rolling maul.
A successful Canning conversion narrowed the gap to one point, but Otley replied with a Depledge penalty to make it 18-22.
Bees went down to 14 men as substitute Dai Evans was sent to the sidelines for a tackle deemed to be ‘spear-like’.
Liam Dunne crashed over for a try with two minutes remaining but Canning was unable to add the extras at 23-22.
The visitors refused to lie down and successfully applied pressure to yield two penalties into added time, which allowed Depledge to clinch the win.
Bees entertain Broadstreet on Saturday.