BIRMINGHAM & SOLIHULL 17 CANTERBURY 31
By Andy Rogers
There is a growing level of expectancy about this Canterbury side, who in difficult conditions played with a measure of control and confidence for large parts of a game they seldom looked like losing.
In a strong opening spell the city side lost no time in stamping their authority. JJ Murray and Ricky Mackintosh both came close before Number Eight Jamie Stephens opened the scoring from close range. Ollie Best landed the conversion and with full back Aiden Moss at his effervescent best all looked set for more of the same. However, Bees temporarily rewrote the script when, eager to attack space, Canterbury moved the ball wide and dangerous winger Matt Dight stole an interception to race 60 metres for a converted try under the posts.
It was back to work for the city side as they resumed their game plan with the tight forwards going through the phases and prop Sam Kenny in particular getting through a mountain of work. With Moss terrorising the home defence whenever he had the ball, Canterbury were not going to be denied for long. A yellow card for Bees open side Ashley Scriven saw Ollie Best restore Canterbury’s lead with a penalty goal. It was Best again who, capitalising on another Moss line break, scored the first of his two tries, expertly converting from wide out to take confident Canterbury into a 17-7 half time lead.
Seven minutes into the new half Best poached his second try and conversion to take his personal points haul to 19 in a man of the match performance.
Although the lead was now a comfortable seventeen points Bees weren’t finished. Going into the last quarter of the game they showed real tenacity as they capitalised on loose tapped ball from the Canterbury line out and replacement hooker Stewart Pearl drove over.
It was left to a city replacement, young Jarvis Otto, to restore the margin as he was driven over, the try converted by Ollie’s brother, Tom Best. Despite Bees wing Matt Dight grabbing his second touchdown in the dying minutes, Canterbury were not to be denied a bonus point win which lifts them to 4th spot in the National 2 South table.
Canterbury: A.Moss, R.Mackintosh, JJ Murray, T.Best, C.Grimes, O.Best, D.Smart, J.Green, T.King, S.Kenny, R.Cadman, M.Corker, L.Whetton, S.Roche, J.Stephens
Replacements: K.Braithwaite, T.Little, J.Otto, S.Sterling, S.Stapleton