BUCS Premier North B
York were taught a harsh lesson by a rampant Birmingham back line in a 49-10 humbling on 22 Acres.
After a highly encouraging victory over Leicester in the BUCS Trophy last week, the First XV were sent crashing down to earth and remain rooted to the bottom of this term’s Premier North B this term.
They begun the game with real purpose, winning their early scrummages and earning a penalty in front of the posts- which unfortunately Matt Barton was unable to convert.
The Black and Gold got their spacing right initially, putting Birmingham under pressure and rendering it tough for them to shift the ball wide with the tempo they desired. After a flowing move featuring all of their back three, open-side Iffy Chukwulobelo was on hand to pick off a sloppy offload and stop the attack in its tracks.
The visitors gamely shifted their focus, using increasingly attritional tactics to break down a York defence which was already flagging. After 15 minutes, they scored their first try through a rolling maul, initiated after an uncontested line-out deep into York territory- which was duly converted.
Birmingham negotiated York’s blitz defence with some comfort, and although it looked like a skip-pass had missed its intended target, their right winger gathered off the ground and slid in to score in the far corner.
The home side were left reeling when their outside centre glided through the defence to touch down under the posts. At 19-0, things were looking bleak.
York offered a heartening response, delving deep into Birmingham territory after some excellent counter-rucking led by the industrious Ed Suttle on the blind-side. They made best use of their line-out game- which was efficient throughout- and picked and drove their way to the line, with Alex Davey applying the crucial finish (video below). Disappointingly, fly-half Barton never found a consistent kicking rhythm which could have given York more of an attacking platform.
Birmingham kept York at arms length throughout, never allowing the hosts to burrow their way back. They extended their lead to 24-5 when their scrum-half slid through the defense to touch down to the right of the posts.
Mark Robson, who offered some spark for York at scrum-half, tried to best his counterpart by ducking a challenge and scurrying through to score. He endeavored to provide quick ball for his backs but was prevented from doing so by periodically slack play around the fringes and some, put diplomatically, harsh interpretation at the breakdown by the referee.
After Birmingham, playing in an eye-catching red strip with an imposing golden lion on the front, roared their way into the interval- touching down in the corner to make it 29-10 at the break.
Although York definitely showed more grit and passion in the second half, their brawn was not enough to match Birmingham’s brains. The away team moved the ball with such tempo that they were continually able to make their spare men out wide count. No Black and Gold shirts could stem the tide that flowed through the 10/12 channel all game long.
Birmingham ran in three additional tries in the final half an hour, of which one was converted. Ironically, York rattled more and more bones in the closing stages, with Will Thompson and James Peacock delivering solid hits in the midfield.
All in all, this was a very tough day for the First XV. They have been suffering with injuries but they were second best from the get-go. Their game was littered with errors and they lacked leadership and communication in the defensive line. On the other hand, they will have easier games this term- Birmingham were a very well-drilled outfit- it is early yet.
Captain Thom Arnott agreed. He told Nouse: “We killed ourselves in the first twenty minutes, I think we underestimated Birmingham. We made a lot of silly errors, giving the ball away, and defensively we were poor.”
“From the off I don’t think we were quite there mentally. We let them dominate and it was only when the game was lost that we showed a bit of fire and passion. Today is a massively disappointing day for us- from 1 to 15 we weren’t at it.”
“We all know we are a good enough side to win games in this league. This won’t knock us down, we will bounce straight back from this.”
York: Prior; Barry, Durno, Thompson, Cable; Barton, Robson; Wright, Stewart, Mercer; Davey, Peacock; Suttle, Chukwulobelo, Arnott (c)
Replacements: Bird, Corner, Treanor, Pakenham-Walsh, Williams, Mallinson, Skivington-Jones
Man of the Match: Alex Davey