THEIR talismanic player coach off injured after two minutes, outgunned up front and reduced to 14 men by a yellow card, Bees turned in the defence performance of the season against a big and aggressive Coventry side in atrocious conditions.
Add in a disputed penalty try and a bizarre score from a Simon Hunt miss kick and it was no wonder that skipper Matt Long was quick to sing the praises of his young and inexperienced team.
“It’s been another difficult week for the club and yet all the lads fronted up, worked their hearts out and played with such passion it was a pleasure to be out there,” he said.
“I can’t praise them highly enough; they know they’re up against it and yet they’re going out there with a smile on their faces and giving absolutely everything.”
Bees are still reeling from going into administration with another two players leaving this week, including talented flanker Chris Brightwell.
“We’ve got players playing out of position and we didn’t really have the cover on the bench but everyone stepped up and played with tremendous passion,” added Long.
Player coach Russell Earnshaw lasted just two minutes before being forced to leave the field with a dislocated shoulder, forcing hooker Jack Preece to move to openside with Dale Gardner coming into the front row.
With Earnshaw off the options in the lineout were reduced to one - Alex Davidson - and when Davidson was yellow carded on 48 minutes those options were down to zero.
Bees also took a pounding in the scrum and only an outstanding performance from Leo Halavatau at No8 ensured the home side got a sliver of possession.
Playing into a gale force wind and torrential rain, the Bees pack took its time to regroup following the loss of Earnshaw, conceding two penalties in the process, both converted by Coventry’s fly half Joe Carlisle.
Despite this the forwards were performing well in the loose, forcing no end of turnovers and from a Coventry infringement full back Simon Hunt reduced the arrears by three.
In the set pieces it was a different story, thanks in no small part to the blatant feeding at the scrum by the Coventry No 9. Matters took a turn for the worse when the man in yellow awarded Coventry a penalty try for not binding straight following a series of try line scrums.
Another Carlisle penalty deepened the deficit Hunt replied on 40 minutes to send Bees in 16-6 down at half time.
With the elements behind them Bees looked to use the wind but two further penalty attempts by Hunt, one from 40 metres and another from in front of the posts, were both missed.
Davidson then saw yellow and with him off came the most bizarre score of the season. With Coventry pressing the Bees line, Hunt went for an interception, misjudged it, juggled the ball, and in falling over tried to kick it away, only for the ball to loop over the try line for centre Fangatapu Apikotoa to touchdown.
Davidson returned to the fray just in time to shore up the Bees defence as wave after wave of Coventry’s big pack lay siege to their line. The Alamo or Rorkes Drift sprang to mind as every attack was snuffed out.
Indeed Bees broke out from defence to end the game with a series of attacking lineouts of their own which unfortunately brought no reward.
Back coach Eugene Martin, who left the bench to play fly half in his first competitive game in four years said: “This is a young inexperienced side and they played their hearts out. These guys are keeping the club going - we’ve gone from being division II champions to this in six months but we’re still going out there, we’re still enjoying playing the game we love and we’re going to keep on doing it.”