Bears win two on the trot
Bears dig deep to bury the Stags
COVENTRY BEARS 20HEMEL STAGS 18
Mike Hyde, Butts Park Arena, Sunday
Coventry Bears made it two wins in a row as they edged expansion rivals Hemel Stags 20-18 in an encounter where the lead changed hands four times. Having taken an early lead, that lead was lost twice before the Bears summoned up everyreserve of mental and physical strength to get a winning try with minutes to go.
The Bears kicked off in glorious sunshine on a dry, dusty and rock-hard pitch, and Hemel showed they meant business from the very start and they were soon pressing the Bears, with their kickon the fifth testing Jason Bass, who caught it cleanly.
And as Bears then went on the offensive, it was Bass who opened the scoring on just four minutes. Ben Stead bagged the two extras and it was 6-0 to Coventry. A good start for the home side and their fans.
The Bears could and should have added to this, but their next attack completely broke down, and this was not to be the lasttime things went awry in the 30 degree heat.
Then it was Hemel who were in the ascendency, and only some desperate defending bundling the winger into touch saved a certain try.
But the try did come, courtesy of Blake Broadbent who evaded four Bears defenders for a try that was subsequently converted by Kieran Smith.
The Stags pressure continued, with Marcus Stock leading the attack, before the game entered a scrappy and soggy spell in the middle of the first half, with neither side managing to complete their sets.
It was Jason Bass who broke the deadlock with a searing diagonal run to the corner to regain the Bears lead, but no extras were forthcoming, so it was 10-6.
Both sides had now stepped up a gear and the scores became equal as Alex Williams darted over on the right wing for the visitors.
The referee called half time with the scores even at ten apiece.Fans were then somewhat mystified as the hooter sounded as the players were actually leaving the field.
Hemel started strongly after their half time team talk and were soon attacking hard. But poor handling of that hot ball in the baking heat let them, and likewise let the Bears down at critical moments.
The Stags pinned a Bears player down behind his own line, and then the reverse happened at the other end of the pitch, such was evenness of the game, but for a long spell, neither side looked capable of scoring.
Next was a strong attack by the Bears but once again poor handling prevented their retaking the lead.
It was a penalty given to the Stags following a player being held down after the tackle which gave Kieran Smith the chance to seize two points from a penalty to put his side in the lead for the first time 10-12.
Was the game about to drift away from the Bears?
The Stags were certainly now dominant as they pushed the Bears further and further back, but the Bears regained the lead on a counter attack as Kieran Sherratt zig-zagged over, with Stead adding the extras, 16-12.
Hemel were far from finished as they responded strongly and Kieran Smith was rewarded with a try and a conversion to give Hemel a 12-18 lead with just ten minutes left.
Coventry had the last laugh as Harry Chapman scored three minutes before the end, and the Stags had neither the time nor the energy to reply this time.
It had been a close game.
It hadn’t been a pretty game.
But for the Bears and their fans, this was now two consecutive victories, as they pulled themselves further away from the Stags in the league table, looking up towards the Skolars and aiming to overtake them in the next few weeks and end the season positively.
21 Kam Pearce-Paul
5 Harry Chapman
7 Ben Stead
9 Zac Williams
11 Kieran Sherratt
12 Chris Barratt
Subs (all used)
14 Sam Davis
Tries: Bass (4,23), Sherratt (68), Chapman (77)
Goals: Stead 2/4
1 Jack Mitchell
2 Darren Forde
4 Alexander Williams
3 Matthew Welham
5 Richard Williams
6 Shaun Roberts
7 Kieran Smith
8 Reece Williams
9 Jonathon Burns
10 Blake Broadbent
11 Marcus Stock
18 Dean Roberts
13 Sonny Esslemont
Subs (all used)
14 Paul Stamp
22 Corey Hanson
16 Austin Bell
187 Lewis Taylor
Tries:Reece Wiliams (12), Alex Williams(35), Smith (68)
Goals Smith 3/4
Penalty count: 10-10
Referee: P Marklove
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0, 6-6,10-6, 10-10; 10-12, 16-12, 16-18, 20-18