Bees hold on for narrow win, despite gifting last minute chances to Sandbach
Sandbach unlucky to travel back up the M6 with just a losing bonus point
The Bees were seemingly ‘home and hosed’ at 20-10 with 20 minutes to play, then proceeded to hit the “self destruct” button which could and probably should have cost them the game.
With Sandbach eager for points to take them clear of the relegation zone, the Cheshire side started brightly and took an early lead through a try from centre Liam Carpenter, who powered through the usually solid Bees defence.
Indeed, the visitors looked sharper in many respects in the first twenty minutes of the game and were particularly effective at the breakdown. The Bees weathered the storm however, and Max Rodman came close to scoring, only just ‘scragged’ on the wing by the covering tackler.
With stand in Sandbach full back Olli Nunn missing a shot at goal, the Bees got themselves ahead on the half hour mark with a debut try for promising young centre Ollie Russell, after an elegant offload from his midfield partner Isaac McNulty. The regulation conversation from Jolly put the Bees 7-5 ahead.
The Bees were seemingly getting into their stride now, Jevon Hinds unlucky not to score after a good chip through from Jolly. The lively scrum half was then able to extend the lead to 10-5, with a penalty won after some good spoiling work by Danny Wright. The half time score line could have been further improved in the home side’s favour, had McNulty been able to get a final pass away after another good break. He pulled a hamstring in the process, bringing his afternoon to an early conclusion.
The Bees continued to be in the ascendency for the first ten minutes of the second half, with Rodman bamboozling the Sandbach defence with his illusive running. A Jolly penalty attempt rebounded off the posts and was cleared by the visitors’ defence too.
However, Sandbach were able to find another gear and converted a period of pressure with a try for left wing Joe Jepps, Nunn again unable to add the extras. Another Jolly penalty soon after the restart restored a 13-10 lead for the Bees and further sustained pressure on the Red and Green line yielded a close quarter try for Bees’ captain Chris Goddard, directly under the posts.
With the try converted by Jolly and the Bees 20-10 now ahead, it seemed that Sandbach could crack if the Bees turned up the gas. Yet instead, the home support were to be subjected to a final quarter of anxiety, as Sandbach rallied and the Bees wobbled. Having clearly watched the England v Italy game, Sandbach hooker Jake Percival was able to intercept a Jolly pass and amble over the try line. Again, the conversion was missed, but the score was now 20-18.
Three minutes later, a needless altercation after he had been bundled into touch saw Bees full back Jevon Hinds rightly shown a red card for a dump tackle. Down to 14 men, the remaining 17 minutes saw Sandbach dominate territory and possession, with the home side being increasingly penalised by referee Tim Allatt. Having narrowed the deficit to 20-18, Nunn had two further penalty chances to win the game.
Sadly for him and rather fortuitously for the Bees, he was unable to take either and the Men in Black scraped the win, with the visitors unlucky to be taking just a losing bonus point with them back up the M6 motorway.
The Bees make their own journey north this Saturday (8th April, KO 3pm) to take on second in the league Sheffield, with their last game of the season – at home to Syston at Portway on Saturday 22nd April (again 3pm KO).
Birmingham & Solihull Bees:- (1) Joe Foreman (2) Zane Raimondi (3) Kurtis Payne (4) Andrew Weaver (5) Chris Goddard © (T)(6) Ashley Scriven (7) Michael Stephens (8) Danny Wright (9) Jack Jolly (2C, 2P) (10) Max Rodman (11) Matt Dight (12) Isaac McNulty (13) Ollie Russell (T)(14) Mikey Whettell (15) Jevon Hinds (RC). Replacements (16) Pete Koziot (17) Mat Spink (18) Jack Fitzgerald.
Referee: Tim Allatt