Birmingham & Solihull were the visitors to Haslams, arriving unbeaten and top of the league, Derby were looking to improve on a 57 – 8 thumping when the sides met in September.
Luke Frixou returned to the side, with Ben Trembling dropping to the bench.
Birmingham kicked off, on a cold dry January day.
Derby started well and had an early penalty opportunity but were unable to make it count.
After 12 minutes, Birmingham & Solihull had demonstrated why they were top of the league, with 2 tries, 1 of which was converted, putting them 12 points clear.
The Derby faithful looked nervously at each other, fearful of what might happen, but Derby dug in and steadied the game, before producing some attacking phases of their own.
After 26 minutes, new father, McGrath Van Wyk chipped ahead and Ben Marlow won the race, gathered the ball and scored.
3 minutes later, Birmingham & Solihull lost a player to the sin bin, but it was they who scored next with a converted try after 31 minutes.
On the stroke of half time, George Castledine kicked a penalty to make the score at the break, 19 – 8 to Birmingham & Solihull.
Derby started well after the break and their pressure resulted in a penalty, which George Castledine kicked.
Birmingham & Solihull hit back immediately with a penalty of their own and then scored a converted try to make the score 29 – 11 after 54 minutes.
The game ebbed to and fro with both sides looking to score, but neither being able to do so and the score remained the same until 7 minutes before the end.
Derby lost a line-out at this point and Birmingham & Solihull swept downfield to score another converted try.
Derby did not allow their heads to drop and finished the game with 2 tries.
The first one arrived when McGrath Van Wyk picked up a loose ball and made ground. Derby kept the ball, recycling through a number of phases, before Luke Willmott crashed through the last man to score, touching down against the base of the post. George Castledine added the extras.
Derby continued to apply pressure and were rewarded with another try coming after multiple phases and finished off by Ben Marlow, for his 2nd of the game and 11th of the season.
Birmingham & Solihull thoroughly deserved their victory and showed why they are top of the league.
Derby deserve great credit for fronting up to a bigger side, tackling all day long and looking to attack wherever possible.
A trip to Bournville awaits next week.
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra
Photographs of the Derby v Birmingham & Solihull game will be available to view on the e4creative photography website later this week.