RUGBY UNION - Harbury earn impressive win against champions Solihull but miss out on promotion - The Leamington Observer

RUGBY UNION - Harbury earn impressive win against champions Solihull but miss out on promotion

Leamington Editorial 22nd Mar, 2023   0

HARBURY RFC finished the season with an impressive 15-9 win against league champions Birmingham and Solihull Bees but missed out on promotion as results elsewhere did not go their way.

Rory Pond and Hector Smith crossed for tries in either half whilst Ricky Alford added five points from the kicking tee as Harbury inflicted only a second league defeat on Bees all season at Waterloo Fields.

The result means Harbury finish the Counties 3 Midlands West (South) season in third place, one point behind Coventrians who clinched promotion with a huge 78-0 win against Birmingham Exiles.

Harbury needed to better Coventrians result to achieve an unlikely promotion having enjoyed an outstanding season in which they were one of the league’s surprise packages.

Both teams were playing their first game in several weeks, after a series of frustrating walkovers, and Bees took an early three-point lead after Harbury were penalised at the breakdown inside the first minute.

However, Harbury scored the game’s first try soon after as Ben Knott and Luke Winchester made a pair of crunching tackles which dislodged the ball and allowed Pond to power over from close range as Alford added the extras from a difficult angle.

With scoring chances at a premium, Harbury extended their lead with a penalty of their own as Alford kicked between the posts midway through the half before Bees scored three points of their own from right in front of the sticks.

Harbury held a slender four-point lead at the break and points were similarly hard to come by in the second period as the home side emptied their bench to great effect as the half wore on.

Bees reduced the deficit to a single point with another penalty as Harbury looked to respond only for Steve Alford and Toby Whelan to be dragged down close to the Solihull line.

The visitors missed a chance to take the lead with a penalty from 45-metres out as the kick drifted narrowly wide of the posts.

As the clock ticked down, Harbury scored their second try in the final few minutes as Smith finished off a sensational team move which began after Pond forced a goalline dropout.

The kick was claimed by Tom Kittendorf before Pond dragged in several defenders as the first receiver and secured the ball at the ruck as George Bostock, Tom Arnold, Winchester and Whelan all touched the ball before the latter played an inside pass to Smith who darted over.

And the try sparked wild scenes of celebration on the pitch and sidelines as Winchester narrowly missed the conversion whilst Bees were reduced to 14-men after their number 8 was sent off for dissent in the aftermath of the try.

Harbury managed the final two minutes expertly as the home side finished the season with arguably their most impressive victory.


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