A LAST MINUTE penalty from Mitch McGahan earned Birmingham & Solihull Bees a deserved 16-18 victory over Sutton Coldfield in what was a keenly contested local derby.
McGahan was coolness personified in slotting home a penalty with the last kick of the game to secure a vital victory for the visitors against their rivals, writes Mike Podmore.
In football parlance, this bottom of the table encounter would be described as a ‘six pointer’ and in rugby terms it meant a vital four league points for the Bees and leaves Sutton Coldfield firmly at the foot of National League 3 Midlands.
The visitors kicked off the match into a strong headwind and it was Sutton Coldfield who went ahead thanks to a 45-metre penalty from ex-Bees player Alex White.
White was unsuccessful with a second penalty attempt after 12 minutes, while the Bees’ best effort came from a darting run and kick through by winger Chris Fensome, which took his team deep into enemy territory, but ultimately the hosts were able to clear the danger.
Just before the end of the first quarter, McGahan’s skillful chip was fielded by speed merchant Nyle Beckett, who sprinted in from a few metres out to score Bees’ first points of the afternoon, and although McGahan’s conversion attempt hit the post, the Bees led 3-5.
With the elements in their favour the hosts began to dominate possession and territory and the Bees’ cause was not helped when they received two yellow cards in the space of three minutes to Pete Koziot after 25 minutes and then winger Beckett.
But with the visitors’ defence standing firm, the only points the home side could muster in the remainder of the first half was a 35th minute penalty scored by White, to give his side a 6-5 lead.
Soon after the break Sutton Coldfield extended their lead when winger Mark Rayner scored in the corner, but White missed the tricky conversion attempt.
But it was not long before the Bees were back on the scoreboard with McGahan kicking a penalty to narrow the gap three points.
But they gifted the next points to the home side, when instead of clearing from inside their own 22, they opted to run the ball and were adjudged to have given a forward pass.
From the resultant scrum, Sutton Coldfield got the ball to their dangerous full back Nathan Burchell, who jinked around a number of last ditch tackles to touch down and give his side a 16-8 lead.
With ten minutes remaining ex-Bees player Kinsey Stoddard was yellow carded and with their one man advantage the visitors took the game to the home side and it was not long before Matt Spink forced his way over for a try close to the posts, which McGahan converted with ease.
Trailing by just one point, Bees sensed their opportunity when Sutton prop Stuart Collard was yellow carded and one last effort from the Bees resulted in Sutton Coldfield being penalised for being offside and the cool-headed McGahan did his job before the referee ended the game took seal a 16-18 win.
Ian Matthews’ men will take heart from this significant victory and will be looking to end 2015 on a hight at Finstall Park when they take on Bromsgrove this Saturday.