Coventry Bears Rugby League
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Bears Battle Rhinos


Record attendance as Bears battle Super League Rhinos

Coventry Bears 14 Leeds Rhinos 70

Friday 19th January 7.45 ko.

By Mike Hyde

The game at Coventry’s Butts Park Arena was a celebration of the Bears’ 20 years of existence as they embark on their fourth year in the semi-pro game. More poignantly it looked back at a Headingley game in 1913 between Leeds and Coventry’s Northern Union side, where the Yorkshire team recorded its biggest ever victory, 102-0, with every player scoring, and the Warwickshire team disappearing into WW1, not to be resurrected until 1998.

It was a cold wintery night but that didn’t stop nearly 1300 turning up and creating a great atmosphere.

Leeds team included seven first team players and some of the country’s most promising young players from their academy. Pitted against them was a new look Coventry side assembled from local and regional talent. 

The opening encounters were even, with Bears’ Emanuelli and Ben Stead providing some testing kicks near the Leeds line. But the Leeds defence held out against this early surge and started to take control.

Harry Newman opened the scoring for the visitors on the 14th minute following a clever offload. Leeds Captain Jordan Lilley made no mistake with his first conversion of the night.

A break by Ben Markland put Josh Walters over for Leeds second try three minutes later, and then Dakota Whyllie also crossed over; three tries in rapid succession and the score stood at 0-18.

The Bears composed themselves and then clawed their way back into the game, matching their Super League opponents with fast running and hard tackling, and their reward came as Chris Vitalini sneaked over from the dummy half position for an unconverted try.

Then, with half an hour gone, Ben Stead’s grubber kick hit the post allowing Dan Gover to score the Bears’ second try from close range and this time Paul Emanuelli’s conversion was successful, putting the score at a respectable 10-18.

However, tries by Corey Johnson and Spencer Darley, both converted, restored the Rhinos margin to end the half 10-30.


The second half started with the Bears putting up some stiff resistance, with Dante Morley-Samuels standing out, but soon the difference in strength and fitness really started to show.

Tyler Dupree was the first to cross over ten minutes into the second half, with the conversion putting the score at 10-36.

Two minutes later, Harry Newman ran half the length of the pitch to score again, and the match was over as far as Coventry were concerned.

The visitors lead was further extended by the impressive Mikolaj Oledski, before Ben Markland and Tom Holroyd also crossed over.

Oledski again crossed over before Markland added a further two tries as the Rhinos ran riot against the tired legs of the part time side.

However, all was not over for the Bears as Hayden Freeman started one final attack for the Bears following an intercept. And it was Freeman who finished the move, crashing over the line to the biggest cheer of the night from the 1,294 crowd.

The game ended 14-70, with what had started as a commemoration of the past becoming a glimpse of the future with a record crowd for Coventry, and their new-look side matching their opponents for long stretches of the match.


Match Stats



1 Harry Chapman

2 Hayden Freeman

3 Dante Morley-Samuels

4 Charlie Clarke

5 Errol Carter

6 Paul Emmanuelli

7 Ben Stead

8 James Guertjens

9 Lewis Lord

10 Alex Beddows

11 Harry Kaufmann

12 Chris Barratt (captain)

13 Chris Vitalini


14 Zac Williams

15 John Aldred

16 Callum Bradbury

17 Daniel Gover

18 TomFletcher (trialist)

19 Joshua Jackson

20 Owen Jones

21 Liam Rice-Wilson

22 Joel Thomas


Tries: Vitalini (22), Gover (30), Freeman (78)

Goals: Emanuelli 1/3




1 Liam Whitton

2 Dakota Whyllie

3 Harry Newman

4 Ash Handley

5 Ben Markland

6 Jordan Lilley (captain)

7 Harvey Spence

17 Mikolaj Oledzki

9 Harvey Whiteley

10 Owen Trout

11 Cameron Smith

12 Josh Walters

13 Josh Jordan-Roberts




8 Tom Holroyd

14 Corey Johnson

15 Spencer Darley

16 James Barraclough

19 Jack Broadbent

21 Tyler Dupree


Tries: Newman(14,52), Walters(17),Whyllie(20), Johnson(35), Darley(38), Dupree(49), Oledzki(58,65), Markland(60,71,74), Holroyd(67)

Goals: Lilley 9/13


Penalty Count: 10-8

Half Time: 10-30

Referee: NickBennett

Attendance: 1294


Scoring Sequence:

0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 4-18, 10-18, 10-24, 10-30, 10-36, 10-40,10-46, 10-50, 10-56, 10-62, 10-66, 10-70,


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