BIRMINGHAM & Solihull’s supreme conditioning and defensive organisation were key to them winning their final away game of the season against Scunthorpe at Heslam Park.
In what was already an entertaining game, matters exploded early in the second half following a Scunthorpe try, with two players from each side red carded in the ensuing melee.
Scunthorpe were first to trouble the scoreboard when inside centre Oli Wood capitalized on loose ball some 40m out, making an incisive break before setting up right wing Sam Morgan for the opening try of the game.
Outside centre Will Robinson duly adding the extras with a successful conversion.
It was not too long however before the Bees were able to open their account.
No.8 Umraan Jadwat initially making a trademark break from the back of a scrum.
His colleagues then worked through several phases before feeding the ball to left wing Matt Dight, his clever footwork enabling him to scamper over for a well taken try.
Although fly half Jack Jolly missed the difficult conversion, the lead had been reduced to 7-5.
The game was proving to be anything but an end of season stroll in the park, with both sides giving their all.
Early in the second quarter, Bees were penalized following a Scunthorpe rolling maul.
The home side kicked for touch and secured the ball at the resultant line out, about 20 metres from the Bees line.
Scunthorpe set up a further rolling maul and were on the point of scoring when referee George Richardson awarded a penalty try.
There was a double blow for the Bees with blindside flanker Ashley Scriven yellow carded and the scoreboard now reading Scunthorpe 14 Bees 5.
Scunthorpe were keen to press home their numerical advantage with Wood becoming an increasing threat to the away side’s defence.
Bees held firm however and, on the stroke of half time, were able to work a neat blindside move for right wing Jevon Hinds to go over in the corner.
Jolly did well to add the extras with a tricky conversion to make the half-time score 14-12, an accurate reflection of the opening 40 minutes of play.
The Bees went up a gear at the start of the second half and, after a huge kick from full back Harry O’Brien bounced awkwardly in Scunthorpe’s 22, the men in yellow were able to regain possession, work a number of phases and send Jolly over for a try which he converted.
Bees now led for the first time in the game, 19-14.
Little did those present know of the dramatic events to follow.
Debutant scrum half Reiss Boon became the second Bees’ player of the afternoon to be yellow carded, this time, for stamping on the arm of an opponent.
Scunthorpe kicked for touch, won the line out and after a couple of phases, their No.8 crashed over for his side’s third try.
An unsavoury exchange ensued, resulting in Bees’ captain Jolly & hooker Zane Raimondi being red carded together with Scunthorpe lock Nick Syddal and blindside flanker Grant Elliot.
Robinson was successful with the conversion, with Scunthorpe regaining the lead at 21-19.
Much to the surprise of the home crowd, the game resumed with a Bees’ penalty on the halfway line.
With Jolly’s afternoon concluding early, O’Brien stepped up and narrowly missed his first attempt of the afternoon. With Boon still serving his yellow card, it was 13 v 12 men, yet the Bees’ superior conditioning enabled them to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
A piece of magic from Hinds saw him first to his own chip and go over for his second and Bees’ fourth (bonus point) try.
O’Brien converted to give Bees a 26-21 lead.
The Greens tried in vain to up their game but infringed at a scrum. Bees kicked for touch, won the line out and moved the ball quickly to Dight who jinked over for his second and Bees’ fifth try of the day.
Bees now had a ten-point lead, 31-21. O’Brien couldn’t manage the extras on this occasion.
With five minutes or so remaining, tight head Ollie Cole went over in the corner for Scunthorpe’s fourth and bonus point try.
The conversion was missed, but with the lead cut to 31-26 home supporters were given renewed hope.
Their side went all out to secure a converted try to win the game, but Bees dogged defence stood firm.
The final play of the game saw the men in yellow steal the ball from an attacking Scunthorpe line out 5 metres out, and clear to touch.
Bees had won a cliffhanger 31-26, a testament to the commitment the team has shown all season.
With Peterborough Lions finishing second in the Midlands Premier Division, the RFU has yet to decide whether Bees’ rescheduled match against Newport (Salop), 3pm on Saturday 28 April at Portway, will take place.