A Grand Day Out.
Widnes Vikings 90 Coventry Bears 0
By Mike Hyde
On Saturday, the first ever coach load of Bears supporters set off for a journey up the M6. Others went by car and train in the biggest show of away support the club has ever known. This was the reward for the Bears and their fans for overcoming two strong amateur sides to reach the fifth round of the Challenge Cup.
The semi-pro Bears of third tier League 1 were now playing full-time professional Super League Widnes, seven times Cup winners.
And the sun was shining, great times indeed.
However, the game was only a minute old when Widnes’ Alex Gerrard slipped through three Bears defenders before passing the ball to Aussie Rhys Hanbury who scored the first of what was to be his hat-trick before the interval, with a further try after the break.
Three minutes later, the home side were over again, and again, and again. The Bears did all they could to resist the overwhelming power of the Vikings’ blitz, but the home side were piling on the points at a faster rate than minutes were elapsing on the clock.
Yet despite being outclassed and outgunned by the big powerful Vikings, the Bears refused to give in. Still they tried to play good rugby and carry out moves that would have paid dividends against lesser opposition.
And the Bears fans weren’t giving in either, still in good voice despite the 54-0 deficit as the half time hooter sounded.
The Bears came out for the second half with nothing to lose, and were clearly playing better, with flowing passing moves, gaining territory with James Guertjens outstanding, but still unable to make the final breakthrough. And they were better at slowing their opponents down, working together to halt their opponents in their tracks. And if one player couldn’t stop a rampaging Viking, three would do the job such was the team’s commitment.
But the Widnes try machine was still relentless, and the score hit 80-0 with fifteen minutes to go. Coventry’s loyal band of fans feared for the worst, a repeat of the 102-0 a much earlier Coventry Rugby League team suffered in 1913 against Leeds.
But still the Bears resisted and now it wasn’t just the Bears supporters but pockets of home fans cheering and applauding a Midlands rooted side giving its all, despite the gulf in every department.
Danny Craven and returning superstar Patrick Ah Van both notched up hat-tricks with six other names on the scoresheet in a match which was to end at 90-0.
But still it wasn’t over for the plucky Bears as they posed for pictures with their opponents and the sporting Widnes crowd gave them a standing ovation.
Tom Tsang summed up the days action;
‘From the coaches and players perspective we need to take the day for what it was - a fantastic experience for all involved and a reward for good performances earlier in the competition.
Widnes were pure class both on and off the field and we will learn alot from the day on all fronts.
The speed and intensity by Widnes was at a level few if any of our lads will have faced before.
Having played Bradford and Widnes in consecutive weeks, we now need to start applying the lessons we have learnt in the upcoming league matches, starting with London Skolars on Sunday.’