IT LOOKS as though the writing is on the wall for Birmingham & Solihull Bees after they were all but consigned to relegation from National League Two (North) following Saturday’s narrow 38-40 defeat against Hull.
It was ‘Groundhog Day’ once again at Portway on Saturday with the Bees conceding an eight-point lead against Hull in the final eight minutes to crash to another agonising defeat which barring a miracle on the final day will consign the Bees to the fourth tier of English rugby.
It was a thrilling game for the observer but in truth it was an error-strewn game which lacked quality and justified both side’s league position at the wrong end of the table.
The hosts fell behind to an early penalty from Greg Lound in the first minute but were 14-3 ahead by the 11th minute thanks to tries from skipper Chris Goddard and winger Aquile Smith, with centre Rob Connolly having a hand in the creation of both.
But a yellow card to fly half Adam Canning on 17 minutes gave the visitors impetus and two quick tries from Adam Corkish and Jonathan Matthew pulled Hull back to within just one point. 14-13
A third unconverted try followed by Corkish allowed the visitors to move in front but the Bees showed their determination and fought back with Goddard scoring just before the break and Canning added the extras to put the hosts 21-18 ahead the break.
The men in black started the second half strongly and when Canning snaked through the Hull defence for a solo try two minutes in, securing the try bonus point in the process, it seemed that the all important win could be within the Bees’ grasp.
But Hull had other ideas and another assault on the Bees’ defensive line saw Matthew and Oliver Cook cross to swing the pendulum back in Hull’s favour at 28-30 with 22 minutes to go.
The see-saw nature of this now tense game took a further twist when Aquile Smith conjured up his second try to wrest the lead back for the home side. And when Canning slotted a penalty kick with just eight minutes to go, surely a 38-30 lead would be sufficient to see the Bees home.
But that sadly was not the case for the long-suffering home supporters who were forced to witness yet another harrowing final act of a game where the Bees’ season-long ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory was exposed once again.
A penalty conceded within kicking range allowed Lound to close the gap to five points and then two minutes later Stephen Hihetah evaded some half hearted Bees tackling to score in the corner.
Lound landed the perfect conversion to secure a well earned Hull victory and, with it, deliver a sickening hammer blow to the Bees’ National League Two North survival hopes.