NW Crusaders Match Report
Bears cling on to gain first away victory
North Wales Crusaders 16 Coventry Bears 22
Report by Mike Hyde
Coventry Bears won away from home for the first time this season in a closely fought game at Wrexham. It was certainly not all plain sailing and the Bears did well not to let the game slip away from them in the second half.
The wet and slippery conditions caused problems with neither side being able to get into a rhythm for the first quarter of an hour until the ‘Cru’ started putting sets together and piling pressure on the Bears defence. Then Jamahl Hunte intercepted a Cru pass and did what he does best, sprinting seventy yards and spectacularly crossing over the line for the Bears in the corner of the pitch.
A few minutes later Matt Reid off-loaded the ball to Hayden Freeman to score and Paul Emanuelli made no mistake with the conversion and the score was now 0-10 to the Bears.
However it was a similar offload which put the home side over for the first time and their successful conversion narrowed the score to 6-10.
The Bears were soon to reply as Brad Delaney scooped up the ball following a Cru kick and raced over the try line with Paul Emanuelli adding two more points from the conversion.
The hooter sounded to signal the end of a first half where the Bears had both defended resolutely and been entrepreneurial in attack.
Half Time: Crusaders 6- Bears 16
The home side were the first to score in the second half following a ruck and were able to convert, narrowing the gap to 12-16.
The Bears continued defending but knocked on in the wet conditions and the Cru scored again from the ensuing scrum. The conversion was missed but the sides were now level on points.
Moreover, the home side were in the ascendancy, and every Bears fan knows just how their side can fade away in the second half.
It was Bears young hooker Sam Davies who regained the lead as he burrowed over the line for his debut try. Brad Delaney added to the tally with a well taken conversion, and it was now 16-22, but there were still 25 minutes left to play and the Bears needed to defend that lead.
This they did, with Kieran Sherratt in particular, stopping the Crusaders dead in their tracks and seeing his team hang on for that elusive first away win.
This had proved to be the complete 80 minute all round performance by the bears that has been promised for so long.
Now with two games remaining, away at Oxford and home to South Wales there is every chance the season will end on a high note.
Bears Head Coach Tom Tsang was in good spirits after the game when he told us;
‘’With the wet conditions, today was definitely one built on defence. Once again I thought we were good value for our lead at half time. We had less ball than crusaders but were more clinical in attack and took our chances well. The most pleasing aspect was our confidence and work rate in defence - at one point we repelled North wales for 4 sets back to back and then came away and scored ourselves.
We showed a lot of character in the second half and dug deep to push for the win.
All 17 players were great and all played their part but I need to give particular credit to Jamahl Hunte who caught every high ball that came his way and scored a fantastic long range try, Jason Bass was superb in attack and defence, plus Zak Williams was industrious as ever in the middle of the field.
Credit also to debutants Sam Davis and Jacob Jones who both showed up really well.
Man of the match was Kieran Sherratt for great work defensively which set the tone for the win.’’
Next Saturday the Bears make the short trip down to Oxford before their final home game of the season against South Wales on Saturday 16th September.