Coventry Bears Rugby League
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Bears overcome scares to book game against Widnes.


Mike Hyde, Butts Park arena, Sunday 25th March

Last week, all was set for these two teams to do battle, but the Beast from the East had other ideas. Since then, the potential of a tie against a Super League club turned into reality in Tuesday night’s draw, with a game at Widnes now being the prize for today’s winners.
The Bears kicked off, but it was the away side soon showing the most determination, pressing into the Bears half. A kick on the fifth was desperately tipped into touch by the Bears defence- an early indication that this would not be easy.

With barely five minutes gone, Chris Clayton powered over for the Pilks, but the conversion attempt hit the upright. There then followed an evenly matched period before Terence Riley forced his way over to extend Pilks’ lead. And this time Danny Lynch added two more points, to put the score at 0-10 to the NCL side. The Bears needed to improve on this or an embarrassing upset would be on the cards. The pendulum then began to swing towards Coventry with a series of attacks culminating in James Mason twisting his way over the try-line from close quarters, and Ben Stead was successful with the conversion.

Then on 35 minutes, Paul Emanuelli pulled another try back and Stead’s conversion put the Bears into the lead for the first time 12-10. Could the Bears hang on to this lead against their determined and hardworking opponents?

Half time 12-10

The second half started with both teams still in with a chance, and nine minutes in, Bears were reduced to twelve men as James Mason was sinbinned for fouling in the tackle. The ensuing penalty was missed, but Pilks’ Clayton went over for his second soon after against Coventry’s twelve remaining men and Pilkington’s Lynch converted on this occasion. The away side were in the lead again.

The Butts Park faithful were aghast that a worse looking offence from the away side minutes later merely resulted in a penalty. But this was what was needed for the Bears to be galvanised into action as, in reply, Hayden Freeman crossed over on the far left and Stead took a difficult conversion to restore the Bears’ lead.

Jason Bass added to the lead despite the efforts of three defenders to stop him over on the far left of the pitch, and once again Stead converted. The Bears at last had the upper hand against tough opposition from the Conference.

Pilks were definitely down but not yet out as Tom Chisholm pulled one back to bring them within four points of the Bears. Then a great run by Dante Morley-Samuels set up a second try for James Mason, whose Sunday afternoon had seen him go from try scoring hero to sin-binned villain and back again. The reliable Stead again converted and effectively ended Pilks’ chance of yet another comeback. Paul Emanuelli added a drop in the final two minutes to put matters beyond doubt to set the Bears on course to meet Widnes in the next round.

At the end, Bears Coach Tom Tsang reflected on a job accomplished. "We’re delighted to be through to the fifth round for the first time, and to have won three competitive games in a row. We seemed nervous for the first twenty minutes but did what was necessary and stuck to the game plan. I am buzzing for the chance to play Widnes, whatever the result it will be another great experience for the lads. I am proud of them today."

Man of the Match: Jason Bass

Tom Tsang said : "Playing injured he scored a crucial try with a miracle put down and later chased back 70 meters for a try and possibly match saving tackle. He was generally busy in attack and got us out of some sticky situations."

1 Jason Bass
2 Errol Carter
3 Kam Pearce Paul
4 Dante Morley-Samuels
5 Hayden Freeman
6 Paul Emanuelli
7 Ben Stead
8 James Guertjens
9 Zac Williams
10 John Aldred
11 Kieran Sherratt
12 James Mason
13 Chris Vitalini
Subs (all used)
14 Liam Rice Wilson
18 Dan Gover
16 Ben Gray
19 Joel Thomas

Tries: Mason (30,75) Emanuelli (37) Freeman (55) Bass (62)

Goals: Stead 5/5
Drop: Emanuelli
Sinbin: Mason

1 Ryan Hilliard
2 Tom Chisnall
3 Ian Stanley
4 Johnathan Frodsham
5 Jake Hodson
6 Tom Roughley
7 Danny Lynch
8 Chris Clayton
9 Ryan Liptrot
10 Mark Briody
11 Terry Riley
12 Mike Garrity
17 Jonathan Peers
Subs (all used)
14 Luke Riley
20 Phil Riley
15 Joe Chow
16 Connor Mulchay

Tries: Clayton (5, 49) Riley (17) Chisholm (70)
Goals: Lynch 2/4

Penalty count: 8-10
Half-time: 18-8
Referee: A Sweet
Attendance: 395
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-10 6-10, 12-10; 12-16, 18-16, 24-16, 24-20, 30-20, 31-20

Bears next game at Butts Park; Newcastle Thunder in a League 1 fixture Good Friday 3pm Kick off.

Photos credited to Sponge Beattie, SBS photography .

Bears Media