NATIONAL TWO: STOURBRIDGE 25 BIRMINGHAM & SOLIHULL 35
Regardless of what delights Santa brings this week, Christmas came early to those privileged to see this festive feast of running rugby.
Derby matches are often fraught, nervous affairs but these Midlands neighbours have such flair players in their ranks that there was never time for a tactical stand-off.
Stourbridge centres Adam Billig and Ben Barkley delighted with their runs while Duncan White’s marauding from the back of the scrum brought the crowd to their feet.
The Bees were just as inventive with full back Reece Spee taking centre stage with his sleight of hand and nimble footwork continually bemusing the hosts.
With six tries, a minor scuffle or two and non-stop action, this was the game with everything – the perfect antidote to the credit crunch Christmas.
“The crowd must have enjoyed it,” Bees coach Russell Earnshaw said. “I would have taken five points at the start of the game and would definitely have taken it at half-time playing into the wind.”
As it was, Earnshaw had to be content with a slender 18-17 lead at the interval – and that after trailing their hosts for much of the half.
Stourbridge drew first blood with a Ben Barkley try and continued to rack up the points through four Bressington penalties. In reply, Brightwell and Phillips ran in Bees tries while Mark Woodrow kicked a conversion, penalty and drop goal.
The opening ten minutes of the second half saw the Black Country side camped in the visitors’ half but all they could show for their efforts was a try in the corner from winger Martin Freeman.
A Woodrow penalty edged Bees within a point before Phillips crossed for his second try that saw him produce the most audacious dummy to send two covering defenders crashing into each other.
Stourbridge hooker Ben Gerry was sent to the sin bin with Brightwell claiming his second try three minutes from time to secure the bonus point.