After an opening half of the season which the Birmingham 1st men’s rugby may wish to forget, a victory against top of the table Newcastle may save them from relegation. Birmingham, who before the match were stuck at the foot of the table, had been on an impressive run. Despite having won 3 out of their last four games, many outsiders would not have believed the Lions could go all the way and actually beat the best team in the division. However, with a large crowd behind them, the 23 players and coaching staff were able to pull off a David and Goliath type of victory if you will.
The wind definitely effected the game as the first half was full of errors, especially from kick off by both sides. However, it did not affect the Birmingham fly half who definitely had his kicking boots on with some very accurate goal kicking, importantly keeping Birmingham’s points board ticking over, and keeping them in the lead. This lead was expected to be short lived after an amazing individual try by the Newcastle scrum half, who took the ball off their lineout, dummied, and managed to sneak past a possible over, rushing Birmingham backrow and touch down in the corner. The fly half for Newcastle was not having the luck of his opposite number however, and missed the conversion.
For the next 30 to 40 minutes, the game was full of big hits, some handbags, and plenty of great rugby, not to forget the two Burn FM commentators who almost contracted frostbite. The game continued to be tight throughout, with a further try from Birmingham not able to match the two scored going into the final 10 minutes of the match. The crowd were lively throughout the match, to say the least, and they definitely played their part in getting Birmingham back in front with a score after some great forward play.
With less than 5 minutes to go in the match, Newcastle were down by 3 and were awarded a penalty. They somewhat bravely turned down the opportunity to go for goal to tie the game, but instead decided to give it to their forwards, keep it tight, and try to bully their way up the pitch. The clock had turned red, Newcastle were giving everything they had, and bodies were flying everywhere. It was clear to see from the view on the top of the bank that a winger on the far side of the pitch was unmarked for Newcastle. The fly half for Newcastle spotted this before any of the Birmingham defenders, and sent a low driven cross field kick from the 22, aiming for the corner flag. The bounce of a rugby ball was to determine the game, and bounce it did, not into the hands of the free winger, but over the line into the crowd. The final whistle blew, difficult to hear over the cheering crowd who stormed the pitch to congratulate their winners.
A great game all round by both sides, but it was Birmingham who came out on top with 23-20. It can be concluded that if they continue to play in that fashion for the final games of the season, there will be no relegation worries.