Bees too hot for Phoenix to handle in sub-zero temperatures
Another bonus point victory keeps promotion push firmly on course
Despite challenging weather conditions at Portway, Birmingham & Solihull recorded another emphatic victory – this time against Doncaster Phoenix – to keep their promotion push firmly on course.
The 43-5 win was achieved despite a near whiteout in the first half and a second half whitewash of a Doncaster side who struggled to cope with the relentless pressure exerted by their hosts in the second period.
With the fixture already postponed by snow in January, both teams ran out to light snowfall at a chilly Portway. In spite of this, the Bees made light of the adverse conditions notching up two scores – the first a peach of a try from fly half Rodman, with the second just reward for some patient work across several phases, well finished off by the burly Matt Spink. Both conversions were adroitly slotted home by Jack Jolly.
However, despite a near monopoly of possession and territorial advantage, the home side were unable to further stretch their lead. Then, some uncharacteristically poor tackling allowed Phoenix centre and skipper Sam Bottomley to narrow the deficit to 14-5 after 25 minutes, a score which seemed to have a galvanising effect on the visitors.
It was now Doncaster’s turn to have the lion’s share of the ball for the remaining 15 minutes of the half, but more trademark Bees’ defensive work thwarted any return for their industry for the Phoenix.
With the snow flurries clearing in the second half, the Bees were able to put in one of their most impressive 40-minute shifts of the season so far, running in five tries to nil against an increasingly demoralised Doncaster side.
Two of the scores – one a piece for hooker Zane Raimondi and lock Matt Spink – came from impressive catch and drives from 20 metre line outs. There was a brace too for promising youngster Ben Phillips – one finishing in the left-hand corner after some good handling across the pitch and a second after he had switched to scrum half, with the substitution of his skipper Jolly. This was a real poacher’s try, collecting a ball that had squirted out of the back of the Doncaster scrum and deftly evading the attentions of the Phoenix winger and full back.
Perhaps the pick of the bunch though was scored by second row Danny Wright, on hand to take a well weighted pass from winger Steve Johns and brushing aside the covering tackles to score sublimely in the corner from 22metres out. A try that emphasised just how relentless and ruthless the Bees have at times been this season.
Although Jolly and Rodman were able just to convert two of the five second half shots at goal, the margin of victory was still impressive given the near artic conditions.
The bonus point win maintains Birmingham & Solihull’s 11-point lead at the top of the Midlands Premier division, with a game still in hand over nearest rivals, Peterborough Lions. The Bees now just need a further 12 points from their five remaining fixtures to secure automatic promotion to National League 2 next season.
The first of three games in eight days – all at home - comes in the shape of a visit by bottom of the table Old Halesonians to Portway next Saturday (24th March, KO 3pm).
Bees v Doncaster Phoenix: - 1. Joe Foreman, 2. Zane Raimondi (T), 3. Kurtis Payne, 4. Danny Wright (T), 5. Matt Spink (2T), 6. Ashley Scriven, 7. Michael Stephens, 8, Marcus Brown, 9. Jack Jolly (3C) © 10. Max Rodman (T, 1C), 11. Steve Johns, 12. Nathan Tilsley, 13. Ben Phillips (2T), 14. Tawanda Chipadza, 15. Harry O’Brien, 16. Matt Probert, 17. Keanan Cooper & 18. Jimmy Oliver.
Referee: - Andy Smith