Birmingham Solihull 10 v 32 Plymouth Albion
Bees’ future in the Championship has slipped out of their hands after they tumbled to a 10-32 defeat against Plymouth Albion on Friday, followed by Moseley doing the double over Esher on Saturday by 27-22.
The double blow leaves them seven points adrift at the bottom of the relegation play off table with a maximum of ten points on offer from their two remaining games against Moseley at home this Sunday, and Esher away, the following weekend.
Even if they win both of those with bonus points they are left relying on Plymouth to defeat first Esher this weekend and then Moseley.
Mind you, on Friday night’s performance, Plymouth are well capable of doing them the service, however whether or not Bees have the wherewithal to fulfil their part of the mission is another matter.
Throughout Friday evening they looked like a side too frantic to win; their play off series has been characterised by poor handling, poor tackling, and an ability to get on the wrong side of the referee and against Plymouth all those elements came together.
Add in the fact that Bees fielded Russell Earnshaw - the man who had dislocated his shoulder the week before - and the word ‘gamble’ springs to mind.
If it was a gamble it came unstuck early on as the director of rugby visibly winced when first called upon to make a tackle and his entire team and the crowd winced with him.
Plymouth meanwhile were in sparkling form; roared on by a couple of coachloads of fans Bees were 17 points down after just 25 minutes, as their outstanding locks Robin Copeland and Tyler Hotson combined to give the latter the first try. Fly half Alex Davis converted then added a penalty from well inside his own half before slotting a conversion wide out after a Steve Johns try in the corner.
Bees fly half Mark Woodrow pulled three points back as the first half ended.
Six minutes after the re-start Copeland got on the scoreboard after a breathtaking move started by Bees old boy Cameron Mitchell on the wing who fed scrum half Tom Kessell who sent Copeland over in the corner, Davis again converting from wide out.
Bees were down but not out, their efforts thwarted by poor handling, losing the ball at critical moments and a referee who was giving them nothing.
Nevertheless they lay siege to the Albion line and were rewarded by a Mark Hopley try converted by Woodrow.
Plymouth weren’t finished though - Davis slotted another penalty to make it 10-27 before the try of the match; Full back Sione Tu’ipulotu breaking out of defence brushed aside poor Bees tackling and was finally brought down on half way. The ball was recycling and a cross field kick was brilliantly caught by Mitchell who fed flanker Sean-Michael Stephen who scored.
After the match scrum half Rod Petty said: “we have got the spirit to come back from this; we let ourselves down with handlng errors but there are still 10 points on offer and we still have everything to play for.”