Coventry Bears Rugby League
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Bears v Crusaders Match Report

Picture by NW Crusaders

Picture by NW Crusaders


Sunday 5th July Butts Park Arena

Coventry Bears and North Wales Crusaders faced off in their first Kingstone Press League 1 fixture at Butts Park Arena with only three places separating them in the table. 

The Bears went into the game looking to recover from a disappointing last minute defeat at to rivals Oxford. Head Coach Tom Tsang was forced into a number of changes which saw debuts handed to Jack Morrison, formerly of Swinton Lions, and Chris Dixon. 

Having started the game positively the Bears errors afforded Crusaders the opportunity to bag three quick tries which gave them a hold on the game. 

After heading into the half-time break 26-0 ahead, Crusaders didn’t click into gear in the early stages of the second-half; largely down to the Bears’ big, aggresive forward pack.

But the Welsh side did start to rack up the points as the half wore on and the Bears began to tire.

Crusaders took the lead early on when Gary Middlehurst popped a short ball out to Jono Smith to score down the left.

Gary Middlehurst then had a try disallowed as Rob Massam’s pass was ruled to have gone forward, before Massam crossed in the corner after taking Roets’ pass.

Then, Crusaders added another two tries in quick succession, with Jono Smith and Karl Ashall both crossing the whitewash.

The visitors began to struggle to break down the Bears, but Rob Massam did add his second and Crusaders’ fifth shortly before half-time when he took in Roets’ pass to cut inside and score.

Coventry started the second-half as well as they could have hoped; Cooper took advantage of a dropped ball by Andy Moulsdale – making his return for Crusaders after a 14-month absence – to touch down next to the posts.

It didn’t take too long for Crusaders to the respond, however, as Sam Peet took in Massam’s pass from the wing to cross down the left.

The left flank was becoming a familiar area for Crusaders to attack and they finished off a try down there once again soon after; this time, Massam took in Peet’s offload to score.

Karl Ashall then finished off a Gary Middlehurst break under the posts, before Jono Smith and Sam Peet combined in an exquisite attacking move to send Tommy Johnson over to round the game off for Crusaders.

Speaking after the game Bears Head Coach Tom Tsang said; 

"It was another frustrating loss, as we created a lot of opportunities and had our fair share of the ball and field position. However, we showed a lack of cutting edge in the final third of the pitch. In contrast, Crusaders were clinical and converted opportunities to points. 
What is also disappointing is that we are definitely much improved from the start of the season and are performances improve weekly - which hasn't been reflected on the score boards. We know what we need to improve and its more individual errors at this point, rather than team structure/process. 
We have Keighley travelling to the Butts Park arena this weekend, who are another top team. It is important for us to keep positive and continuing to strive for improvements."

28 Andy Winfield
2 Chris Dixon
5 Ben Parry
21 Stephen Coleman
45 Jason Bass
30 Dan Parker
7 Cameron Boulter
27 James Geurtjens
24 Richie Hughes (Captain)
16 Alex Beddows
32 Kenny Kelliher
12 Chris Barratt
26 Matt Cooper
29 Liam Thompson
15 Andy Unsworth
50 Morgan Evans
17 Jack Morrison

Tries: Cooper (42)

1 Tommy Johnson
2 Scott Turner
31 Benjamin Jullien
3 Christiaan Roets
5 Rob Massam
14 Karl Ashall
7 Jamie Dallimore
8 Jonny Walker
15 Lee Hudson
16 Joe Burke
11 Jono Smith
12 Stephen Wild
13 Gary Middlehurst
6 Andy Moulsdale
32 Sam Peet
23 Mark Hobson
10 Ryan Duffy

Tries: Smith (6, 20), Massam (17, 38, 65), Ashall (22, 69), Peet (52), Johnson (72)
Goals: Johnson (7/9)

Referee: Chris Campbell
HT: 0-26
Attendance: 467

Bears man of the match: Matt Cooper

NEXT MATCH: The Bears take on Keighley Cougars this Sunday 12th July at 3pm at the Butts Park Arena.

Admission is £10 Adults £8 Concessions £2 Children

Bears Media