The first round of the Papa Johns Community Cup saw Bees drawn away against Northamptonshire side Brackley RFC, a side they had faced at the same stage of the Cup at the beginning of the 21/22 season when Bees took a close fought game 41-38. In front of a large crowd boosted by the fantastic travelling support, who have followed the lads all season, the stage was set for a fantastic afternoon’s rugby against two very evenly matched teams on paper.
Both sides had secured promotion from their respective leagues, Bees having won theirs, and Brackley hadn’t lost a home game or in fact any game since September 2022 last year. So with reputations at stake, Bees started strongly using the slight slope and what there was of the wind. After a mistake at the breakdown by Brackley in the 13th minute, Lewis Edwards got the Bees on the board much to the delight of the away spectators, with an early penalty to give Bees the lead .
As expected two good sides continued to show their class, Brackley in defence, as Bees continued to press and add to the score, the crowd were seeing some excellent rugby. The Bees backs probed well and eventually Edwards outpaced the defence to offload to the supporting Ryan Sleaford who showed some exceptional pace for a lock, to beat the Brackley defenders and touch down in the corner for the first try of the game in the 16th minute.
That galvanised the hosts and from the kick off, Brackley lifted their intensity and soon forced an offside penalty that their excellent young fly half, Bartlett, converted for three points for themselves on 25 minutes an excellent long distanced penalty by fly-half, putting them right back in the game. Again Brackley pressed hard to try and level the game before half time. A brisk move down their left saw Brackley brake away and only a last-ditch saving tackle from man of the match and captain, Joe Davies, prevented them from scoring.
Half Time Birmingham & Solihull RFC 8-3 Brackley RUFC
The start of the second half again saw the home team, with the advantage of the slope, put pressure on the Bees defence, which like the first half stayed strong and coped with all the opposition threw at them. The pressure told and with Bees giving away a penalty in front of the posts in the 43rd minute, saw Brackley’s 10 again slot home the 3 points to take his team to within one score 8-6
With the large home crowd now smelling blood the the Bees fought back again and had their own period of pressure resulting in fly-half Edwards quietening the home crowd down by adding two further penalties in the 50th & 60th minutes, making it 14-6 .
Again Brackley came back, Bartlett pulling the strings releasing the backs who crossed the Bees 22m line. After a considerable amount of pressure, Bees could not stop the hard working Brackley forwards from scoring a try from a series of pick & go's by their skipper Newman, in the 72 minute with the extras being added by Bartlett , making the score 14-13 to Bees.
A tense last 8 mins saw Bees contain the hosts in their own half before forcing a penalty in the last few seconds. With the referee calling threfinal play of the game, Edwards smartly tapped the ball before kicking the ball out of play, to end what was an excellent game
Full Time Birmingham & Solihull RFC 14-13 Brackley RFC