Rugby Championship: London Welsh 33 Birmingham & Solihull 9
Birmingham & Solihull are on the right track, according to director of rugby Russell Earnshaw, despite losing their third game in a row this season to stay rooted bottom of the Championship table.
Despite a committed defensive performance, Bees went down to London Welsh at Old Deer Park in a scrappy, but largely one-sided, encounter.
“If we had fronted up like that last week we would have won,” said Earnshaw, who is relishing next Saturday’s tough assignment at Cornish Pirates.
“We had a great trip there last season and I’m looking forward to going down there and seeing if we have improved from this week.”
However, Bees will still be struggling with the injury list that meant they were without 12 squad members.
Bees had started the brighter of the sides and could have gone over for a try in the first minutes after their hosts had failed to field the kick off.
The chance was squandered due to a combination of poor decision making and handling errors, and Bees had to settle for a fourth minute penalty by Simon Hunt to take the lead.
The lead only lasted five minutes as Welsh capitalised on turnover ball to move the ball wide quickly and send Liam Gibson over in the right corner.
Bees regained the lead through a Hunt penalty but again it was short-lived.
The home side’s second try was reward for their adventurous approach as they shunned a kicking opportunity and drove hooker Marc Breeze over from a five-metre line-out.
Hunt’s third penalty after the Exiles had transgressed at a ruck kept the Bees in touch, but with five minutes left in the half flanker Jack Preece was yellow carded for killing the ball and Ross replied with three points.
The hosts’ fly-half added another penalty straight after the interval but Bees managed to keep the damage to six points while down to 14 men and even created pressure of their own.
However, a scrappy third quarter of the game was notable only for another Ross penalty while Bees could only muster two long range attempts from Hunt, both of which sailed narrowly wide of the posts.
London Welsh dominated the closing stages and, although Bees commitment never wavered with some superb tackling and an ability to legally slow the ball down, the pressure told and they could not prevent the bonus point.
Hudson Tongauiha and Joshua Drauniniu had proved a constant threat down the left hand side with their blend of pace and power. It was little surprise when they combined with the winger stepping inside Foden to score.
And the Exiles sealed the win in the final minute when after more concerted pressure full-back Aled Thomas jinked his way through for to score before converting his own try with the final kick of the game.
LONDON WELSH: Thomas, Gibson, Tongauiha, Whatling (Mackey, 54), Drauniniu, Ross (Sampson, 71), Lewis (Stevenson, 31), Pittman, Breeze (Ma’asi, 59), Ward (Holford, 66), Corker (Williams, 71), Purdy, Mills (Taione, 54), Hills, Russell.
BIRMINGHAM & SOLIHULL: Foden, Hunt, Barkley, Lawson, Elliott, Robinson, Petty, Long, Sammons (Tau, 54), Halavatau (Oselton, 54), Taulava, Griffiths, Gerry, Preece, Hopley (Sperandio, 73). Subs: Dugard, Binham, Grove, Brake.