RFU Championship: Esher 29 Birmingham & Solihull 27
A last-minute penalty denied relegated Birmingham & Solihull a memorable finish to life in the Championship.
Facing a 26-5 deficit with 35 minutes remaining, the Bees showed incredible spirit to claw their way back and take the lead. But their hard work was undone when David Slemen slotted over from distance at the death.
Esher set their stall out from the outset. After just three minutes, prop Ricky Nebbett forced his way over to give his side the lead.
Geoff Griffiths increased Esher’s advantage soon after as the centre pounced on a neat grubber kick from Slemen, who then converted.
Bees’ Adam Clayton hustled and harried before finally breaking through with a brilliant darting run to score.
But Esher then began to pull away. Alex Walker crashed over before, five minutes into the second period, full-back Jonathan Hylton produced a superb solo run to take a commanding 26-5 lead.
Despite the score, Bees were determined to not leave empty handed and hit back with a Robert Connolly try.
The decision to bring the fresh legs of Adrian Griffiths, Mark Woodrow and Tomasi Tanumi on worked wonders.
Griffiths caught the Esher defence napping with a kick and chase to score. Woodrow missed the conversion but made up for it three minutes later with a penalty.
Unable to stem the tide, Esher then handed Bees their fourth try when Griffiths lost control of the ball, allowing the on-rushing Tanumi in to score. Woodrow converted to give his side a slender lead.
With time ticking away any slip-up would be crucial and unfortunately it was Birmingham who made the mistake, leaving Slemen to kick Esher to victory.
BEES: Winter, Hunt Lawson, Connolly (Brake 76), Culpin (Tanumi 58), Petty, Williams (Woodrow 58), Dugard (Long 58), McMillan, Halavatau (Ngalu 58), Noonan, Wright (Griffiths 58), Bentall (Earnshaw 58), Peerce, Clayton.