NW Crusaders Match Report
Bears take lead, then struggle to find form in second half.
COVENTRY BEARS 18 NORTH WALES CRUSADERS 34
Mike Hyde Reporter
Dave Jessop photographer
Coventry Bears kicked off from left to right in front of the main stand at their temporary home at BroadstreetRFC on a cool and occasionally blustery afternoon.
Despite beating several traditional teams, plus expansion teams, the Bears had never beaten Crusaders in Coventry- a situation continued on Sunday.
It soon became evident that the two teams were evenly matched and capable of completing their sets in the opening few minutes, but with the Bears being more adventurous on the last play.
Kadeem Williams almost broke through with a kick and collect, but it was Reece Rance who broke the deadlock.
His try came after a Crusader attack broke down deep in the home sides half, the loose ball was scooped up and was soon in Rance’s hands as he sprinted eighty yards to touch down on the right wing.
Nick Newman was successful with the tricky conversion.
Crusaders were soon attacking again, and Bears were reduced to twelve men as Kam Pearce-Paul instinctively lashed out in a tackle.
It seemed like Crusaders were not going to capitalise on their numerical advantage, with the Bears keeping the ball alive and continuing to press.
However , the wide pitch allowed Cru to pass out to the wing where Dave Ecclestone crossed over with ease. This was just the type of try the Bears scored with ease in the previous game at Broadstreet, but now they were on the receiving end.
Baker’s conversion levelled the scores.
And then it was Baker’s turn to add a try to the score sheet as he barged over from close quarters, adding the extras for himself to make it 6-12.
As the half drew to a close it was Cru who were reduced to twelve menas Kenny Hughes was sinbinned.
Could the Bears use the numerical advantage in the early stages of the second half?
The answer was ‘no’ as the away side started the second half with the determination which would see them win the match as Rob Massem crossed over within a minute of the restart.
There was no conversion this time.
Both sides played some good Rugby in patches, and the Bears were next over the line courtesy of Lewis Taylor who scored from close quarters, with Nick Newman’s successful conversion edgingthem to within four points of the Crusaders. But each time a comeback looked possible, the away side dug a little deeper.
The visitors produced some good passing in response, the culmination of which saw Massem get hissecond of the afternoon, with Fairhurst getting the extras this time.
Coventry were keen not to let the game slip away from them, and clawed themselves back to 18-22 thanks to Elliott Hall’s try duly converted by Newman.
With twenty minutes of the game remaining it could still have gone either way, but it was the visitors who finished stronger, the Bears having picked up two injuries and starting to look jaded.
On 75 minutes, Warren Thompson extended the Crusaders lead, with Fairhurst’s conversion increasing it further.
Two minutes later, it really was all over as Karl Ashallgained the visitors sixth try of the afternoon, again with two extras following.
The Bears had been competitive for most of the game, but lost to a side that was better on the day and was more ruthless in finishing.
1 Elliott Hall
2 Hayden Freeman
5 Reece Rance
6 Brad Sheridan
7 Nick Newman
12 Kieran Sherratt
13 Chris Barratt
Subs (all used)
14 Sam Davis
15 Harry Kauffman
21 Martyn Reilly
Tries: Rance(7), Taylor(48), Hall(58)
Goals: Newman 3/3
1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Ecclestone
3 Simon Atherton
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ryan Smith
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Matt Reid
13 Kenny Baker
Subs (all used)
14 Kenny Hughes
17 Brad Brennan
18 Jonny Walker
21 Liam Walsh
Tries: Ecclestone(12), Baker(25), Massem(41,53),Thompson (75), Ashell (77)
Goals: Baker 2/3, Fairhurst 3/3
Sinbin: Kenny Hughes
Bears Man of the match [as voted by the supporters club]: Elliott Hall
Penalty count: 7-9
Referee: L. Staveley
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0,6-6, 6-12; 6-16, 12-16, 12-22, 18-22, 18-28, 18-34