RFU Championship: Birmingham & Solihull Bees 28 Cornish Pirates 61
Despite a brace of tries from flying winger Simon Hunt, Bees’ relegation fears continued after they fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Cornish Pirates on a freezing night at Damson Park.
However, the scoreboard failed to do justice to a battling display, in which Bees claimed a try bonus point, and gave the visitors a real fright by closing to within five points, with 20 minutes remaining.
But ultimately the Cornish side simply had too much power and pace, and pulled away with four further tries in the closing stages.
A frantic first half brought a remarkable eight tries, as both sides made a number of defensive blunders.
Fly half Jonny Bentley opened the Pirates account in the third minute, when his pack drove him over following a quick tap-and-go.
Bees centre Ollie Winter struck back with a 50-metre solo effort, after winger Grant Pointer spilt a Mark Woodrow Garryowen.
But opposition hooker Dave Ward soon claimed a second Pirates’ touchdown, in support of the powerful Pointer.
Former Coventry lock Laurie McGlone was driven over from close range following a multi-phase Pirates attack, after which visiting skipper Gavin Cattle powered in the corner, in support of Drew Locke’s break, to claim the try bonus point.
Former Nuneaton star Rob Cook converted three of these scores, before Bees hit back through No.8 Semisi Taulava, after Pirates flanker Sam Betty was sin-binned for preventing a quick penalty.
The Cornish side’s fifth try came from full back Cook, who latched on to a long pass from Jonny Bentley, before Hunt concluded a topsy-turvy half with a powerful finish.
The England Sevens flyer brought Bees back within five points, when he raced on to Woodrow’s grubber to touch down in the corner seven minutes after the interval.
However, this spurred the Pirates into action, and a three-try burst at the start of the final quarter ensured they took all five points back to Cornwall.
Pointer finished a sweeping move in the left corner, before replacement back rower Blair Cowan struck twice.Winger Rhodri McAtee added further gloss with an acrobatic last-minute effort.
BEES: Foden; Tanumi, Winter, Binham, Culpin; Woodrow, Williams; Dugard, McMillan, Halavatau; Taulava, Sanderson; Bentall, Denbee, Wright.
Replacements: Sperandio, Gerry, N’Tau, Preece, Webster, Hunt, Petty.
PIRATES: Cook; Pointer, Hopper, Winn, McAtee; Bentley, Cattle; Storer, Ward, Brits; Nimmo, McGlone, Betty, Burgess, Marriot.
Replacements: Andrew, Elloway, Paver, Gulliver, Cowan, Davies, Locke.