Birmingham Solihull 5 Stourbridge 25
BEES may have got off to a losing start in National League Two but there were so many positives from this match that they can only be the better for it.
Even the few areas where this young side came up short are fixable in this, a year of consolidation, which all bodes well for the coming campaign.
Formidible forwards coach Henno Ventner, himself a new recruit from Coventry RFC, refused to dwell too much on the negatives.
“It’s disappointing to lose, and I’m a bad loser, but we’re going to bounce back from this.
“For a squad like ours with an average age of 22 – 21 there are an awful lot of positives; our scrum was much better than last year (in National League One) our line out was excellent and our defence was very good indeed.
“This was the first game for many of these lads at this level and they all worked hard for each other and they all want to win.”
The character in the side really shone through when Stourbridge ran in their third try on 58 minutes to make it 20-0.
The pundits in the crowd expected the visitors to put their foot down and run in a hatful to comfortably secure the bonus point.
Instead it was Bees, who’d spent so much of the match defending, who fired out of the blocks, running in a try of their own and showing some very classy moves as the structure of the game began to break down.
Indeed fans were left ruing the fact that they hadn’t started like that.
The first ten minutes of a match between two teams still finding their way in a new division were spent in the 20 yards either side of half way before full back Tom Jarvis gave the visitors the lead from a penalty.
Against the beefier Stourbridge pack Bees were struggling for possession but, living off scraps, there were early signs of class from Harry Sanders in the centre and veteran No8 Rob Connolly.
It took Stourbridge 30 minutes to cross the Bees line, replacement winger Stefan Cooksammy running in a simple passing move along the backs after Jarvis made the extra man.
The second half started with Bees again showing early promise before the visitors started to turn the screw, No 8 Drew Harper bursting through the defensive line to score a try converted by Jarvis on 55 minutes.
Three minutes later Cooksammy ran in that third try and suddenly it seemed to dawn on Bees that hey, they weren’t a bad side and that Stourbridge were no great shakes.
Back they came, Jack Pons from full back, skipper Will Radburn, Connolly, showing his talent as a one time centre, and Michael Stephens at flanker all showing deft moves.
Stourbridge looked stunned as replacement Oscar Heath, on at scrum half after a three quarters re-shuffle, touched down on 69 minutes.
Sanders missed the conversion but Bees had served notice of the potential in the team.
Unfortunately they then showed their inexperience as, with the clock running down, they handed Stourbridge not one, but two opportunities to score the bonus point try after doggedly surviving a five metre scrum.
The visitors duly took the gift at the second time of asking to clinch the five points, James Rodley touching down.
However all the signs are there that Bees will, in the words of Ventner, bounce back, and that this promises to be a thrilling season down at The Portway.