Bees winning run comes to an end at Sandbach
Narrow defeat ends unbeaten run, but two losing bonus points secured
Birmingham & Solihull’s record breaking winning run of 16 games was brought to an end up in Cheshire this weekend, with a 23-20 defeat against Sandbach.
An injury-depleted Bees side heroically came back from a 13-5 half time deficit and a red card in the 60th minute to have the chance to level the scores with the last kick of the game. As the Jack Jolly penalty drifted agonisingly wide, the visitors were left with the consolation of two bonus points secured in a performance which underlined the depth of character that is now instilled throughout the whole squad.
Injuries and unavailability’s meant that Pete Glackin and Stewart Pearl were forced to make changes in the pack for the second week running. There were starts for Chris Thompson and Sam Allen, with fellow young-gun Keanan Cooper retaining his place in the second row. George Radburn and Reece Donaldson were also on the subs bench. All were to give an excellent account of themselves during a tough game.
Playing down a marked slope and the wind on their backs in the first half, Sandbach had the majority of possession and territory, carving out an 8-0 advantage through a Sam Winstanley penalty and a neatly taken try from left wing Elliott Morris. The Bees’ cause had not been assisted by a yellow card for winger Jevon Hinds.
A signature try from Max Rodman narrowed the deficit on the 34 minute mark, but another yellow card – this time for Chris Thompson – further stretched the visitors’ defence. It was Sandbach’s right winger Jack Leech’s turn to cross the whitewash to take lead to 13-5 at the break.
The home side drew first blood in the second period too with another penalty from full back Winstanley but, restored to a full complement of players, the Bees began to apply some sustained pressure of their own. Hooker Zane Raimondi and No.8 Umraan Jadwat scored tries in quick succession – both from forward drives - to narrow the differential to just one point and it seemed that there was a real momentum shift in the game.
Yet the game was to take a further twist with Bees’ centre Nathan Tilsey shown a straight red by referee Peter Caunt for a tip tackle. Soon after, a powerful run by Sandbach flanker Josh Longton created space for winger Elliott Morris to bag his second try of the afternoon, well converted from the touchline by Winstanley.
The Bees have shown all season that they are a side with plenty of stomach for the fight and, despite being down to 14 men for the third time that afternoon, they continued to run the ball at every opportunity. They were rewarded with a fourth and bonus point try – Jadwat again scoring in the left-hand corner after some intelligent play from scrum half Jolly. The Bees skipper was unable to convert either the conversion or the penalty kick at the death – both difficult shots in the conditions.
Sandbach, themselves down to 14 men with replacement winger Joe Jepps in the sin bin, were understandably elated at the full-time whistle – a despondent Bees can take pride not only in their sixteen previous wins but the character that they showed under great adversity to very nearly salvage the draw.
Despite the loss, with nearest rivals Peterborough Lions not playing, the two losing bonus points gained from the Sandbach game extended the Bees’ lead at the top of the Midlands Premier division to five points, although they now just have the two games in hand.
Pete Glackin and Stewart Pearl’s charges will be looking to dust themselves down for another away game next weekend against Newbold on Avon – Saturday 17th February, KO 2.15pm.
Bees v Sandbach - 1. Joe Foreman, 2. Zane Raimondi (T), 3. Kurtis Payne, 4. Keanan Cooper, 5. Andy Weaver, 6. Chris Thompson (YC), 7. Sam Allen, 8, Umraan Jadwat (2T), 9. Jack Jolly ©, 10. Max Rodman (T), 11. Tawanda Chipadza, 12. Nathan Tilsley (RC), 13. Jimmy Oliver, 14. Jevon Hinds, 15. Harry O’Brien, 16. George Radburn, 17. Reece Donaldson & 18. Ben Phillips.
Referee: - Peter Caunt