When reading a score line of 85-0 it is easy to read in to that many things. A calamitous collapse of moral from the Birmingham team. A capitulation of effort, resulting in such a stark imbalance of scoring. None of these assumptions would be correct of the match on Wednesday the 24th of January, in which Birmingham faced top of the table Edinburgh.
Clashing under swirling clouds, pregnant with rain, the teams ran out on the Bournbrook pitch with eager freshness and points to prove. For Edinburgh, to fend off the surging Durham side, and fortify their position atop the Premier North. For Birmingham, the task of keeping Newcastle at bay and avoid relegation.
The game began with a fierce stalemate centred around the halfway line. Flurries of pick and goes from Edinburgh began to tenderise and blunt the staunch defence of the Lions. With an impressive display of sevens like handling, Edinburgh gashed through a chink in Birmingham’s armour to touch down beneath the posts. First blood to the visitors.
While displaying brave defence for much of the first half, Birmingham were repeatedly undone by flashes of pure brilliance from the Edinburgh side. Most frequently this began with a bustling, hammer headed charge from a forward, who with impressive alacrity of offloading found support time after time, which spreading the ball wide would touchdown on the wings. The visitors entered half time up 50-0.
One might imagine a dropping of heads, even sympathise with hesitating short of full effort from the Lionesses. Quite the opposite could be seen from the Birmingham side upon entering the second half. For a period of 15 minutes Birmingham both countered every Edinburgh foray, and laid siege to the visitor’s 22 with renewed intensity. Special commendation must be conveyed to the bench replacements who played with a prideful abandon, as well as to the number 11 who for the full 80 minutes put in crunching hits and made endeavouring runs.
Ultimately however, against such a force of unity and class as this Edinburgh side, resistance is futile. Edinburgh ran out 35 points in the second period, playing a sophisticated, quasi rugby league style of ball, which was borne out of experience. One must not forget these are the defending champions of the Premier North. This Birmingham side is a young one, and they can take a lot from viewing how experience and perseverance can result in compelling, successful rugby. With a victory over Newcastle all but confirming their remaining in the Premier North, Birmingham can learn from this season and will grow stronger because of it.