Bears v Stags match report
Hemel Stags 16 Coventry Bears 12
Pennine way, Hemel Hempstead, Sunday 26th July, 3pm
Coventry Bears fell to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Hemel Stags in a match played in challenging conditions.
Hemel half-back Charlie Lawrence came off the bench to be the match winner with a try and four successful kicks including a late penalty after Coventry forward Jack Francis saw red following a tackle on Derrell Olpherts three minutes from time.
Non-stop rain made ball handling tricky but both teams put in a spirited display throughout an entertaining clash.
Coventry wasted the first opportunity of the game when Jack Morrison spilled a ball close to the Hemel line after Joel James set up an opening on ten minutes.
Morrison was held up in the next set before a slick move across the backs almost put Chris Dixon in the corner .Keeping up the pressure, Liam Thompson dropped the ball approaching the Hemel line.
Hemel led a charmed life in the opening quarter with only the final ball denying Coventry the opening score of the contest.
Jymel Coleman finally got Hemel on the front foot with astute grubber kicks that Coventry managed to clear in consecutive sets.
Chris McNamara then spurned a chance for the hosts in the right corner following a move set up by James Woodman-Hall.
Hemel finally got the scoreboard ticking when Lawrence powered over from close range after an attacking scrum. Lawrence slotted over the extras for a 6-0 advantage.
Coventry bounced back from the restart when Chris Barratt got on the end of a slick move. Daniel Parker levelled the scores from the boot.
Hemel however were not to be denied an interval lead as Matt Ross collected a loose ball to score near the posts two minutes from the break.
Lawrence added the extras for a 12-6 advantage then slotted over a penalty following a high tackle offence on 50 minutes.
eeding the next score, Coventry put in a big effort and after going close through Richie Hughes and Dixon, the visitors grabbed a lifeline when Parker crashed over in the corner.
Parker landed the conversion to make it a two-point ball game on the hour.
Hemel indiscipline brought a spate of penalties that almost cost them dearly as Coventry enjoyed sustained possession entering the final quarter.As both sides pushed for victory a high tackle on Coleman by James Geurtjens earned Hemel a shot at goal on 69 minutes but Lawrence was wide with his penalty kick.
With the match was up for grabs Hemel held up Parker and Jack Francis on the try line during consecutive sets before the hosts wasted a glorious chance from a scrum deep in Coventry territory five minutes from time.
Hemel though finally sealed the win with a Lawrence penalty after Francis’ altercation with Olpherts on 77 minutes.
The Bears will now look to bounce back from the defeat but they will face tough fixtures against York City Knights on Sunday at 3pm followed by a trip to Barrow on Saturday the 8th of August.
Coventry Bears: Boulter, Dixon, Bass, Taylor, Hunte, Parker, James, Morrison, Hughes, Geurtjens, Thompson, Barratt, Cooper
Replacements: Alex Brown, Hall, Francis, Kelliher.