Rodman runs rings round Derby to help secure yet another win
Fourteenth consecutive win keeps the Bees eight points clear at the top of the table
Another impressive all-round team performance, with more than a sprinkling of magic from Max Rodman, secured a fourteenth straight league win for the Bees away at Derby.
The young fly half scored two of his team’s five tries and created a headache for the home defence all afternoon, playing an important part in a 23-36 victory that secured another 5 points for the Bees.
The win maintains their eight-point lead at the top of the Midlands Premier division, still with two games in hand on nearest rivals, Peterborough Lions. The Bees are also now the only club in the top 5 levels of English rugby with a 100% record this season.
With construction of a new 3G pitch still in progress at the impressive Haslams Lane ground, the game was played on Derby’s training pitch – this arguably limited the damage that a light-footed Bees side could have inflicted on a dry but cold and dull January afternoon.
Live-wire hooker Zane Raimondi dotted down the first try after seven minutes after Rodman weaved his magic in the midfield. Four minutes later Rodman bagged his first after a break from Jimmy Oliver and superb support play. Harry O’Brien added the extras – the Bees’ full back went on to slot four conversions and a penalty during the afternoon in another sure-footed display.
Derby were to have the bulk of possession for the next 15 minutes, but excellent defensive organisation and ascendency in both the scrum and the line out meant that the home side were thwarted in their attempt to translate time with the ball into points. That was until the 25-minute mark, when Derby turned the ball over in the tackle and quick feed out to the backs allowed centre Marlow to sprint in to score in the right hand corner.
A yellow card for Bees’ flanker Michael Stephens could have given Derby further opportunity, but Rodman had other ideas. Cleverly stripping the ball from the Derby winger’s hands, he evaded covering tackles to saunter in for his second try of the game.
A penalty for Derby on the stroke of half time allowed south paw fly half George Castledine to open his account at the third time of asking to make it 8-19 at half time.
The early skirmishes in the second half lead to three further points apiece for O’Brien and Castledine but, restored to 15 men, the Bees were now beginning to assert their forward domination.
Despite being awarded three consecutive penalties at 5m scrums, referee Rob Teare perhaps surprisingly chose not to award a penalty try to the Bees. It was therefore left to one man wrecking ball Matt Spink to bull doze his way over the whitewash to secure the bonus point try and, effectively, put the game out of Derby’s reach at 11-29.
The Bees went on to add another score – winger Tawanda “Chip” Chipadza added to his season tally after some more slick passing and interplay between forwards and backs, with the try scoring offload supplied by acting skipper Danny Wright. The highly experienced and well-travelled flanker, like all his fellow forwards, had a fine game.
To their credit, Derby fought hard to the final whistle and were rewarded with two late tries – one from close range from stand out No.8 Wilmott and a second for centre Marlow. But it was too little too late against a Bees side who came through another thorough examination of their title-winning aspirations.
Pete Glackin and Stewart Pearl’s side were as good in defence as they were in attack and looked much sharper than they had done in the previous game against Bridgnorth, after a five-week layoff. A higher than usual penalty count will no doubt be in focus during training this week, as the Bees prepare for a home tie against Doncaster Phoenix at Portway next Saturday (20th January, KO 2.15pm).
Birmingham & Solihull Bees- 1. Kurtis Payne, 2. Zane Raimondi (T), 3. Matt Probert, 4. Andy Weaver, 5. Matt Spink (T), 6. Danny Wright, 7. Michael Stephens (YC), 8, Umraan Jadwat, 9. Jack Secher, 10. Max Rodman (2T), 11. Steve Johns, 12. Nathan Tilsley, 13. Jimmy Oliver, 14. Tawanda Chipadza (T), 15. Harry O’Brien (3C, 1P), 16. Joe Foreman, 17. Keenan Cooper & 18. Ben Phillips
Referee: - Rob Teare