British & Irish Cup: Doncaster Knights 41 Birmingham & Solihull Bees 8

Post-match analysis of Birmingham & Solihull's matches usually involves sifting through a defeat in search of a few positives. Russell Earnshaw will need a forensic scientist after this one.

And not just because any sifting he tries himself will be severely restricted by a repeat of the shoulder dislocation he first sustained in November.

An innocuous tumble after the referee had stopped play just before half time has effectively ended his campaign. The burdened director of rugby must now try to guide his team to an unlikely escape from the sidelines.

If the evidence of this lop-sided British & Irish Cup match is anything to by that will not be easy. As much as he tries to contend otherwise, positives were as thin on the ground as cohesive attacks.

Admittedly, the scrum held its own once more and the lineout was reasonably productive. But having gained a foothold in the game, they did nothing with it.

Which is surprising because of all their multitudinous faults, a shortage of line-breaks and creative midfielders has not usually been one of them.

Yet at Castle Park they were predictable and easily contained - a worrying fact just a few weeks before the relegation play-offs begin.

Earnshaw is putting a lot of faith in the return of Ben Patston, the mercurial fly half who is well capable of cracking defensive codes.

However, for all his promising cameos Patston has barely played this season and if he was Dan Carter he'd be in New Zealand and not Solihull right now.

Patston's powers of rejuvenation will have to be remarkable if he is to transform what by the end was a sorry looking team into genuine challengers for safety.

Also concerning is the fact that Patston aside this was as near to a first choice side as Earnshaw can pick.

John Brake will surely come in at scrum half for Sam Brown who was given a torrid time by Matt D'Arcy and Mitch Culpin all but played himself out of the team.

There are also questions at full back with Mike Penn's injury leaving Rod Petty and Tom Foden as square pegs trying to fit a round hole.

So while a relatively meaningless Pool D fixture produced very few answers, it certainly posed very many questions.