After saving their season with a nail-biting victory over Cornish All Blacks last time out, Birmingham & Solihull must prove they have remembered its most valuable lesson when they visit Blackheath this weekend.
The feeling around Sharmans Cross Road following last Saturday’s 23-19 victory was that they had been playing – with 14 men for the final stages after Alex Davidson was sent off, for their National Two lives.
A third defeat in seven games would have had a terminally debilitating defeat on their prospects of an immediate return to the First Division so it was with no little relief with which they greeted Saturday’s final whistle.
Russell Earnshaw’s men remain in touch with leaders Redruth and within a game of the other two teams above them in the table and now look forward to a run of games that could give them real momentum before the New Year clash with Cambridge.
That sequence starts at The Club on Saturday but there previous slips on their travels mean there is no headroom for anything other than a victory at Rectory Field. The fact has not been lost on evergreen No?8 Jim Jenner whose part in last week’s win was larger than most.
An early try was only slightly more significant than the outstanding corner-flagging tackle on a fleet-footed winger and one of many pick-ups from a pressurised scrum as proceedings reached a climax.
The euphoria, Jenner says, must be confined to the memory banks and Blackheath must be given their due. “If there is any lesson we learned at Wharfedale it is that any team can perform well at home and cause real issues,” Jenner said.
“Having spoken to a few of the Stourbridge lads in the week I know Blackheath have a phenomenal scrum and a good partisan crowd – there is nothing about this game that is going to be easy.”
The 41-12 humiliation at Wharfedale a fortnight ago stands out as the day any lingering complacency about the likelihood of winning the National Two title, was finally dismissed. Bees travel everywhere with caution now.
But they also travel with optimism too. At times last Saturday they played with genuine quality.
“We compare well against any other side, particularly with the balance we have,” Jenner said. “Some of our backs are fantastic; I am convinced that we have some of the best in the division.
“I didn’t know Reece Spee at all until I moved back to Bees but what an incredible player, Cameron Mitchell has really come of age at inside centre and around him Scotty [Young] and Woody are great players. I’m also pretty confident we have the forwards to get the quick ball these guys need.”
That job will not be helped by the absence of Davidson – their enforcer at second row, who has been suspended for three weeks and fined a week’s wages for his dismissal and his place goes to Ed Orgee.
Otherwise the entire Bees team is the one that beat the All Blacks as Earnshaw finally settles on his starting XV.