By Richard Smith
Birmingham & Solihull secured another five points in a relatively comfortable 28-15 victory at home to Hull, though the visitors showed they still have the firepower to stay in National League 2 North.
Eugene Martin’s side could have perhaps been forgiven for being a little ring-rusty, playing their first game in four weeks.
The men from Humberside looked sharper in the early exchanges and took the lead after three minutes through a James Cameron penalty.
The Bees were first to cross the whitewash though and went ahead thanks to a well-executed try by Jack Linnett.
Rod Petty, playing at nine, used the wind to chip over the Hull defence, where the ball was collected by Chris Fensome, playing on the left wing. Fensome was tackled, but the ball was quickly recycled and the promising young flanker took the ball at pace to crash over the line. Canning added the conversion.
A yellow card for Bees’ flanker Michael Stephens on the 13-minute mark gave the visitors an attacking penalty. Hull No.8 Ollie Cook made a strong run to the line to retake the lead, although Cameron was unable to add the extras.
This proved to be a wake-up call for the Portway side, who began to take the game to Hull, with lock Matt Spink and stand-in No.8 Steve Leach particularly to the fore.
With Stephens restored, he came close to scoring from a charge-down close to Hull’s line.
Bees had the lion’s share of possession and territory for the rest of the half, but good defensive work from the visitors kept the score at 7-8.
Hull had an ideal start to the second half with a try after five minutes from hooker Tom Mumford, converted by Cameron.
The yellow-carding of Cook 12 minutes in was to prove decisive. A penalty kick to touch and excellent catch-and-drive from the resultant line-out, was rewarded by a try for the ever-reliable Chris Goddard. Canning kept his 100 per cent kicking record intact and the Bees were back in it at 14-15.
A second converted try while Hull were down to 14 men – this time from Oscar Heath after an excellent chip through by the impressive Jimmy Oliver – further restored home confidence. A fourth and final try after 26 minutes, deservedly scored by Leach, again converted by Canning, gave Bees the try bonus point and an unassailable lead.
Meanwhile, with only one game played since Christmas, Bees’ Under-18s looked a little rusty against Droitwich.
Six games were played and Bees were triumphant in four of them. Fraser and Robert scored four tries apiece, Noah went one better scoring five, but George, Oliver, Charlie and Joe were fantastic, each scoring an impressive eight tries.