Otley 12 Birmingham & Solihull 48 

Any hopes Otley had of reversing the early-season defeat at Birmingham evaporated after just five minutes when they lost fly half Mark Ireland, the league’s top scorer, with a hamstring injury.

Although Jack Mackie, who moved in from centre, fitted in well, it left the midfield short of imagination and light on defence.

His opposite number Adam Canning rose to the occasion, kicking from hand immaculately and converting all six tries and adding two penalties.

With his forwards having the edge, he had ample opportunity. From a turnover, he kicked for the corner, where left winger Alexander O’Malley gathered to score and, seven minutes later, he kicked a penalty.

A prodigious 60-metre penalty kick set up a five-metre line-out, from which lock Matthew Spink was driven over, and Canning closed the first half with his second penalty score.

Otley showed more promise after the break but no continuity. An attacking line-out was thwarted by a crooked throw, while a great break by prop Paul Hill went unsupported.

Otley at last put pressure on the visitors’ line while Spink was in the sin bin, Arnold Ellison getting through.

Winger Nazir Karim was in at the posts, only to be pulled back for a forward pass, and inevitably Birmingham came back when scrum half Rodney Petty dodged over.

Stephen Depledge came up with a carbon copy for the hosts, Chris Gemmell converting, but they could make no further headway as Birmingham ran in three more tries through Spink and subs Steven Johns and Ashley Elvers.