Hemel Stags Preview & Squad
This week’s opponents: Hemel Stags
Bears v Stags
Pennine Way Hemel 2pm kick off
Sunday 11th March
After the disappointment of last weeks game being called off, the Bears are on their travels this weekend as they travel down to Hemel Hempstead on Sunday for an away League 1 fixture.
The Bears and the Stags have a friendly rivalry going back to their days as top amateur teams, flying the flag for Rugby League in what may still be described as non-traditional areas for the sport.
Hemel joined the semi-pro ranks in 2013, along with Gloucester and Oxford. Those two clubs are no longer inexistence, but Hemel have a solid base and own their ground and clubhouse and benefit from revenues they bring.
On the field, they have struggled, citing a lack of local talent, and they took the drastic step of basing themselves in the North of England, first at Dewsbury, and now at Sheffield. Their players are from the North, train in the North and come down the M1 on matchdays.
Coventry’s strategy is completely different, focusing on developing the game and players across a tract of the Midlands, so the match is a clash of not just two relatively new clubs, but of approaches to the semi-pro game.
In their first League game of the season, the Bears were well beaten away at Doncaster, and the Stags lost at home to Hunslet.
Last June, the Bears beat their rivals 28-24 at home in the league, and again 29-26 in the playoffs, but this time the game is at Pennine way, Hemel Hempstead, so a close game could be on the cards.
And then the focus returns to the Challenge Cup, with the Bears in the fourth round for the first time against Pilkington Recs at the Butts Park Arenaon Sunday 18th March kick off 2pm.
Bears 19 man squad:
Liam Rice Wilson