Bears greatest win
Bears greatest win so far!
COVENTRY BEARS 30 KEIGHLEY COUGARS 20
Mike Hyde, Butts Park Arena, Saturday
Coventry Bears sensationally beat a traditional Northern heartland team for the first time, and made it three wins in a row as they demolished Keighley Cougars at the Butts Park Arena.
Going into the game, Bears fans could have been forgiven for feeling a little uneasy about facing a Keighley team which had inflicted a 98-6 score on the Bears up in Cougar Town.
To add to these fears, key players were unavailable due to student international duty. It did not augur well.
So, it was all hands on deck for the Bears and crowd favourites Brad Delaney and Mikey Russell returned to the fold.
The Bears kicked off and immediately looked like they meant business, pressing Keighley hard in their own half, with the returning Mikey Russell catching a difficult long ball putting the Bears into attack, and with Kameron Pearce-Paul driving hard in the middle. This was already fast and exciting Rugby League.
Then it was the visitors turn but their most promising move broke down with a forward pass.
Soon, Coventry were again looking dangerous as winger Errol Carter sprinted into space. He then passed the ball to Russell who promptly scored just three minutes into his return. Emanuelli took the conversion and extended the home sides lead to six points.
The vulnerability of the Cougars’ defence was then further exposed as the other revenant Brad Delaney sliced through the Keighley ranks before passing to captain Chris Barratt who finished the attack by crossing the line. The successful conversion put the score at 12-0.
Just as when the Bears scored first against Bradford a couple of weeks ago, it seemed the players hadn’t read the script and were casting off the long-held heavy mantle of the underdog. Could this possibly last? There was still a long time to go, and a long time for the Cougars to assert themselves and inflict damage.
For sure, the Cougars were in no mood to take this, and were soon camping on the Bears’ line, but strong Bears defending saw one player held up over the line and another bundled into touch to the delight of the crowd.
The two sides were very different; the Bears play was now characterised by some good passing moves and searing attacks, while the away side started to leverage their superior weight and strength.
And it was that strength which set up Nathan Conroy to score a typical hooker’s try from a couple of yards out, with hardcastle adding two more. The lead was cut in two, and a comeback was now on the cards for the away side.
The pendulum was now swinging ever more towards the visitors as Harry Aaronson added another try. However, the unsuccessful conversion meant the Bears still went into the dressing room with a half time lead, albeit cut to just two points when it had been 12.
The Bears came out the stronger team, and soon Delaney was probing and punishing with his kicking, but no try was forthcoming.
As it happened, a foul tackle resulted in a Bears penalty. Instead of launching another attack,Emanuelli took the chance to add two more precious points in what was now a very tight game.
The Bears then pressed hard again, and it was that man Mikey Russell who broke free on the left with a diagonal run to add a second try on his welcome return.
Next up,Emanuelli started a move with a kick which created a superb opening for Jacob Ogden to cross the line, and then he finished it with a conversion putting the score at 24-10.
This galvanised the Cougars.
Straight after the kick off they were simply unstoppable as Hallas Harvey bulldozed over and Hardcastle converted to start a determined comeback. 24-16
For a good fifteen minutes the visitors camped deep in the Bears’ half. This was desperate stuff for the Bears as they defended more like Bees, all working together as a unit with a single purpose, swarming around Cougar attackers, letting nobody pass.
Within six sets, on three occasions a Cougars attacker was held up over the line. Could they possibly keep this up ‘til the hooter?
Finally, with barely ten minutes to go, the Bears defence was breached as Dan Parker added another for the visitors and only four points now stood between the sides. Heads may have dropped, but they didn’t.
The Cougars pushed harder and harder, but now to no avail, as they gave away a penalty, and the wise decision was again taken to go for the two points to stretch the Bears’ wafer-thin margin to six points.
The Cougars now needed to score a try and convert it to gain a draw and some self-respect. The radio commentator from Yorkshire who was next to me assured his listeners that they would do just that.
The Cougars continued attacking as the minutes and then the seconds ebbed away.
Bears’ Dante Morley Samuels found himself with the ball in the Cougars half as the hooter sounded.
In the stand, they thought it was all over.
He could just die with the ball.
But Dante danced, teased and mesmerised the tired Keighley defenders, he jinked and wove this way and that before kindly handing the ball to Mikey Russell who promptly completed his hat trick.
It was over now.
No conversion, but cue delirious celebrations among players and fans alike. A historic victory, a memorable victory, a third victory in a row.
Great days indeed.
Roll on Wednesday night as the Bears play West Wales Raiders at 7.45pm Kick Off at the Butts Park Arena.
1 Mikey Russel
2 Errol Carter
3 Jacob Ogden
21 Kameron Pearce-Paul
5 Hayden Freeman
6 Paul Emanuelli
7 Brad Delaney
8 Chris Vitalini
9 Zak Williams
16 Malakhi Lloyd-Jones
11 Kieran Sherratt
12 Chris Barratt
13 Sam Davis
Subs (all used)
14 Dante Morley-Samuels
10 James Guertjens
15 Cameron Stewart
17 John Aldred
Tries: Russell (6,55,72), Barratt (9), Ogden (63))
28 Harry Aaronson
5 David Dixon
17 Cameron Leeming
3 Hamish Barnes
2 Andrew Gabriel
32 Daniel Parker
23 Benn Hardcastle
19 Matthew Bailey
21 Christopher Cullimore
16 Harvey Hallas
35 Darrell Griffin
12 Brendon Rawlins
13 Michael Emmett
Subs (all used)
8 Scott Law
9 Nathan Conroy
31 Jose Kenga
17 Kieran Morgan
Tries:Conroy(32), Aaronson (35), Harvey(62), Parker(71)
Goals Hardcastle 2/4
Penalty count: 12-11
Referee: J Stearne
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 12-0,12-6,12-10: 14-10,18-10,24-10,24-16,24-20,26-20, 30-20