National League Two: Blackheath 28 Birmingham & Solihull Bees 35
Bees player-coach Russell Earnshaw heaped praise on his team’s front five after a gutsy comeback in a National Two encounter at windswept Rectory Field.
The visitors made little headway in the first half but kept themselves in touch with a fine try by full back Reece Spee just before the interval. The assistance of the wind prompted a more direct approach after the break as the Bees took on their powerful opponents up front.
Earnshaw said: “We knew first half we were into the wind and we tried to play a little bit more. In the second half we played a much more territorial game and hats off to the front five. Blackheath have got a very good scrum. It is the main part of their game and we did pretty well.”
After an early penalty apiece, Blackheath scored the first try of the match as open-side flanker Dave Allen burrowed over from close range in the tenth minute. Matt Leek added the conversion.
Mark Woodrow slotted his second penalty for Bees but it was cancelled out by Leek’s effort on 26 minutes after Spee had been sin-binned for a high tackle.
The home side’s Chris Bishay off-loaded superbly for Alex Page to cross. Leek’s conversion left the visitors trailing by 14 points but a revival was sparked by Spee’s first try and a penalty by Woodrow two minutes into the second half.
Bees were in control and tries by Simon Hunt and skipper Rob Connolly put them eight points in front. Leek’s penalty gave the hosts hope but Spee skipped away for a try with five minutes remaining. Bees hooker Ben Phillips was sin-binned and Blackheath’s James Honeyben got a consolation score
Blackheath: Bishay; Page, Barratt, Hamilton, Smith; Leek, Honeyben; Legg, Wordley, Brett, Bason, Vanner, Lindsay, Allen, Matthews. Replacements: Aseme, Lyons, Jones, Vaughan, Olima.
Bees: Spee; Hunt, Young, Mitchell, Culpin; Woodrow, Petty; Long, Phillips, Voisey, Orgee, Pammenter, Connolly, Earnshaw, Jenner. Replacements: Davies, Collett, Clayton, Brown, Halavatau.
Referee: Richard Draper.