COVENTRY BEARS 28 LONDON SKOLARS 30
Butts Park Arena, Coventry,Good Friday,
Photography by Dave Jessop
The scoreline shows how tight this was but cannot show the drama, the comebacks, the controversy and the final heartbreak endured by Bears fans as the Skolars’ final conversion went in off the post in the last minute.
Skolars had kicked off on a gloriously sunny afternoon where every tackle resulted in a cloud of dust. After the Bears first set, they were in possession and very soon pressing the home side hard on their line.
Having come close, it was Joe Brown who opened the scoring, and Neil Thorman added his first conversion of the game.
The Bears tried to claw themselves back into the game and both sides played some entertaining and attacking Rugby before a flowing move and a powerful finish by Jordan Williams extended the Skolars lead, and another successful conversion made it 0-12.
The Bears needed to score and the home fans thought they had done so, as did the Bears players celebrating on the field, even the referee seemed to think so at first but a consultation with the linesman saw no try given.
Minutes later the same happened again and iit felt like this was not going to be the Bears’ day
Finally the pressure brought a try, courtesy of Toby Richardson from close quarters. Nick Newman’s conversion followed to bring the home side back into the game.
Then, just before half time, Sam Davis’s try and Newman’s second conversion brought the Bears level at half time, so all was to play for in the second half.
The Bears were in the ascendency as play restarted, but the game between two very evenly matched sides then turned rather scrappy, with dropped balls and errors from both sides as much on display as good lay-offs and a variety of tactics.
Half way through the half the lead was retaken by the London side as LilessMacani crashed over on the right. Thorman’s kick failed to add the two extra points, but they came Skolars way a couple of minutes later thanks to a penalty kick.
A twelve point margin was restored when Jordan Wlliams weaved over the line for a converted try.
Once again the Bears had to fight back, and they did.
A brace of tries by Elliot Hall were converted by the in-form Newman, and the two sides were equal, setting up an exciting finish.
Then with two minutes to go, Hayden Freeman seized on a grubber kick to put the Bears in the lead for the first time, but the difficult conversion was missed.Having trailed by twelve points twice, it looked like the only scoreline that really matters, the one at 80 minutes, would belong to the Bears.
But the Skolars heads did not go down, and LameckJuma pulled the away side level in the very last minute; 28-28.
All now rested on Thorman’s conversion, on the left side. The ball went spinning into the air, this looked close, very close. It hit the post, then cruelly fell over the crossbar, leaving the Skolarsexstatic, and the Bears devastated.
Time now to lick wounds and regroup before the next home game, which may or may not be at the BPA due to ground maintenance. See the website and social media for updates.
Quote from Tom Tsang:
It's always tough to lose in this way, and a lot of focus will be put on the end of the match. But it was our poor start to each half that really cost us the game. We made too many errors forcing passes which let Skolars off the hook, when we were in good field position.
I have to praise the enthusiasm and character of my side though. To come from behind twice and take the lead towards the end of the match shows improvement from previous performances.
This league is proving to be very unpredictable, with all teams beating each other. We know we are very close and now look forward to having a consistent schedule with weekly games and hope to build momentum over the second half of the year.
1 Elliott Hall
2 Hayden Freeman
5 Errol Carter
6 Mitch Shaw
7 Nick Newman
9 Nathan Conroy
12 Chris Barratt
13 Kieran Sherratt
Subs (all used)
14 Sam Davis
15 Toby Richardson
Tries: Richardson (21), Davis (38), Hall (69,75), Freeman(78)
Goals: Newman 4/5
1 Joe Brown
14 Richard Wilkinson
10 Malakhi Lloyd-Jones
9 Neil Thorman
20 Matthew Ross
11 Jordan Williams
12 Lamont Bryan
7 Michael Bishay
Subs (all used)
13 Liam Scott
16 Jonathan Magrin
15 Rinaldo Palumbo
22 Robert Tullato
Tries: Brown (2), Williams(18,61), Macani (53),Juma (79)
Penalty count: 15-8
Referee: Mr Race
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-6,0-12,6-12,12-12; 12-18,12-24,18-24,24-24,28-24,28-30