Birmingham Exiles opened their league campaign against also-promoted Rugby Welsh with a performance that, on another day might have given them a win.
Their dominance at the scrums was near total, but the possession thus gained was not fully exploited and E’s ultimately paid the price.
The Rugby backs were more penetrative and winger Richard Burnett crossed in the corner for the first try.
An opportunist score brought Exiles level. A deep kick was gathered but the Rugby winger miscued his clearance kick straight to E’s second rower Avery who found prop Dave “Psycho” Poles in support and the latter drove over.
Exiles’ best spell of the match followed and, from another dominant scrum, they went ahead. Root made a blindside break and the loose ball was picked up by Gareth “Chunk” Holloway who went over.
Before half time came a pivotal point. Rugby’s stand off Darren Wade broke clear and, as he was about to cross between the posts, was tackled too high by E’s winger Allen. Having yellow-carded Allen for the offence, the referee awarded a penalty try.
In the second half winger Steve Askins found just enough space to cross in the corner for a try. Crucially – as it turned out – Elliott Johnstone’s conversion attempt just dipped under the crossbar.
Exiles now led 15-12. With barely three minutes left, Rugby spurned a penalty attempt that would have levelled the score and from their attack, Phil Tipping go past his would-be tacklers to touch down in the corner.