West Wales Match Report
Coventry Bears……top of the League!
Coventry Bears 28 West Wales Raiders 4
Sunday, Butts Park Arena, Coventry
By Mike Hyde
The ‘glass half full’ types who support the Bears will relish having such a headline at last, and the ultra optimists amongst us would even point to the off season tables before any games had been played also had the Bears on top, because the teams were listed alphabetically, with West Wales Raiders just above Whitehaven and Workington at the foot of the table.
But the ‘glass half empty’ types would point to the fact that the Bears beat a woeful Raiders team 66-4 last season in the equivalent fixture, and by any reckoning that is a considerable narrowing of the gap.
The truth, as ever, lies somewhere between the two opposing viewpoints and both teams need improvement on this error strewn showing at the Butts Park Arena.
The two sides 2019 smart new season strips could not hide a litany of forward passes, fumbles and sloppiness, but for most of the 526 crowd, this was a welcome winning start to the season.
The Bears kicked off, but it was the Raiders team with ten debutants that was soon pressing in the early encounters. The initial lead was almost theirs as they elected to take a penalty kick instead of going for a try, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
The away side continued to press, but were held up by a Coventry defence which remained resolute throughout the game.
This was a hard fought encounter, and Raiders’ Ronny Palumbo was laid low for several minutes, before being taken off the pitch, only to return with a strange bandage arrangement across his nose which made him bear a striking resemblance to Adam Ant.
It was from defence that Coventry scored their first breakaway try as Hayden freeman sprinted 80 yards to touch down. Newman’s conversion made it 6-0.
A few minutes later Freeman intercepted and this time ran 100 yards to touch down and in retrospect seal the game, with the extras again being added.
The Raiders were not in the mood to give in and continued to give it their all, showing spirit and determination, but unable to convert this into points.
This was to be the game played out, Raiders always pressing and appearing dominant, but Coventry defending well, not attacking well but still able to occasionally pierce their opponents and do damage.
The Bears were best on the break, and the third try was similar to the first two, only this time Elliott Hall left the Raiders standing as he ran 75 yards to line up Newman for his third conversion of the afternoon.
He almost added a couple more in the death throes of the first half but his free kick fell short.
So the Bears had a good lead as the teams left the pitch, could this be extended or would a much improved Raiders side be able to fight their way back into the game?
The second half started much the same as the first, with the Raiders appearing the stronger team as both sides battled hard.
But the Raiders were still unable to beat the strong Coventry defence, who once again broke away with Jacob Jones putting in a good run before crashing over on the left. And once more the two points followed.
Although the Bears had been unable to score from close in, their final try of the afternoon broke that mould, with a long flowing move taking the ball from left to right and back again, culminating in Dante Morley Samuels try on the left wing, with the angle being a little too acute for the in-form Newman.
The game was pretty much over now and it entered into another soggy, error strewn spell.
However the Raiders were clearly not wanting to be nilled on their first outing of 2019, and their reward came in the 72nd minute as Rowland Kaye scored for the visitors to set the score at 28-4, a vast improvement over the 66-4 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Bears last Season.
For Bears coach Tom Tsang it was a welcome win, ‘it is good to start with a win, not the best performance but one on which we can only build and improve. If we reduce those silly errors and complete our sets, more results will come our way. Especially as our defence is holding up well. But next week will be a true test, against Newcastle, probably the favourites to go up, but lets hope for another great crowd, and who knows?’
1 Elliott Hall
2 Hayden Freeman
5 Reece Rance
6 Bradley Sheridan
7 Nick Newman
9 Nathan Conroy
12 Chris Barratt
13 Ben Gray
Subs (all used)
14 Dante Morley Samuels
15 Dan Gover
17 Kieran Sherratt
Tries: Freeman [8,13] Hall  Jones  Morley Samuels 
Goals: Newman 4/6
1 Phil Cowburn
2 Dai Evans
24 Morgan Jefferies
23 Kaye Rowland
7 Tyler Hunt
8 Connor Parker
26 Alex King
10 Sam Herron
20 Mike Connor
13 Dan Maiden
Subs (all used)
14 Dalton Desmond-Walker
25 Michael Sabor
Tries: Kaye 
Goals: Hunt 0/2
Coventry Bears Supporters Club Man of the Match;
Penalty count: 14-13
Referee: C Worsley
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0,12-0,18-0; 24-0, 28-0, 28-4