Canterbury's powerful and pacey backs too hot to handle for valiant Bees
By Richard Smith
Long trip to garden of England proves unfruitful for the Bees
Match Report by Mike Podmore
Birmingham & Solihull put in a sterling effort against second place Canterbury, more than holding their own at scrum time and in the line-out. Unfortunately, the Bees valiant defence was unable to stop the “Men of Kent” scoring 3 tries in each half, to win the match 38-9 and thus maintain their challenge to finish second in National League 2 South.
The visitors kicked off the game on a cloudy, but mild day. They had the better of the opening exchanges, and with only three minutes on the clock Sam Rogers, Canterbury's open-side flanker, was yellow carded. Jack Jolly, calmly slotted home the resultant penalty.
The Bees continued to have the better of the game, territory wise, when after 10 minutes the home sides dangerous backs broke from inside their own half. Matt Dight did well to come across from the left wing to make a last-ditch tackle but was caught on the wrong side of the resulting ruck, and yellow carded for not rolling away.
Dight was somewhat unlucky, because in the build-up Canterbury had cleverly blocked Bees covering defence, but this was not spotted by the match officials. Canterbury elected to kick for touch. They won the line-out and their driving maul provided hooker, Tristan King, with the opening try of the game. Ollie Best was successful with the conversion to give Canterbury a 7-3 lead.
Jolly reduced the home side’s lead to a single point after 20 minutes, when Canterbury were penalised at a scrum. However, five minutes later Bees found themselves defending their own line desperately, when home full-back Ollie Best gathered the ball at the back of a ruck and darted over to score Canterbury's second try of the day. He added the conversion, to give his side a 14-6 lead.
This did not deter the Bees and another Jolly penalty again pegged the score back to 14-9. After this Canterbury seemed to up their game, but the dogged Bees’ defence held firm. Not long before half-time, Jolly was penalised for not releasing his man after a tackle and was yellow carded as the incident occurred close to the Bees’ line.
They were able to repel a number of Canterbury efforts to get over their line, before the home side were awarded a scrum in a central position. The Kent side won the scrum and made the most of their one-man advantage by moving the ball quickly to the left for winger Charlie Grimes to go over in the corner for his side’s third try of the afternoon. Ollie Best missed the conversation, but Canterbury led 19-9 at half-time.
The referee did not help Bees cause, when early in the second half he harshly yellow carded Luke Smith for a deliberate knock on, which occurred on the half-way line. If Smith had caught the ball, he would have had a clear run in for a try. Instead the initiative was handed to Canterbury, with Bees down to 13 men.
Ollie Best kicked deep for touch, Canterbury secured the line-out before going through a number of phases, which eventually led to their scrum-half Dan Smart scoring in the left-hand corner. The conversion proved too tricky for Best.
Despite being two men down, the Bees took the game to Canterbury and were awarded a penalty for their efforts, some 35 meters out in front of the posts. With Jolly still serving out his yellow card, Harry O'Brien took over the kicking duties. Unfortunately, his kick drifted to the left of the posts at the last moment.
Approaching the end of the third quarter, Canterbury scored the best try of the game. From an attacking scrum just inside the Bees’ half, the ball was moved quickly to fly-half Harvey Young who ran at pace across the pitch before off-loading a clever pass which allowed Ricky Mackintosh, right wing, to cut inside and sprint to the line. Best added the extras to make the score 31-9.
The game became very open after this, with both sides throwing caution to the wind. However, try as they might, the Bees could not add to the scoreboard and it was Canterbury who scored their sixth and final try of the day with ten minutes or so remaining on the clock. They gathered loose ball just inside the Bees half and moved it quickly to Sam Sterling, outside- centre, who did the rest. Ollie Best adding the conversion to make the final score Canterbury 38 - Bees 9.
The Bees fought hard throughout the game against the side who are likely to finish in the play-off position. The difference between the two sides was that Canterbury had the ability to score tries whenever chances presented themselves.
To add to the Bees injury woes, it appears that Michael Stephens has broken his jaw following an accidental collision in the second half.
It's back to Portway this weekend (Saturday 23rd February, KO 2.30pm), when the rearranged game against Clifton will take place. The Bees’ fate will be determined largely on how they perform in their remaining five home games.
Bees v Canterbury 15. Venus, 14. Smith (YC), 13. Kelly, 12. Tilsley, 11. Dight (YC), 10. O'Brien, 9. Jolly (3 P-YC), 1. Foreman, 2. Pearl, 3. Probert, 4. Spink 5. Weaver, 6. Scriven, 7. Stephens, 8. Brown. Replacements: 16. JP Nel, 17. Nick Bingham, 18. Alex Willis, 19. Adam Nunney & 20. Ed Krawiecki
Referee:- Jack Sutton; AR1, Stephen Light; AR2, Frank Venner.