A GRANDSTAND friendly at Butts Park Arena last Friday night saw Super League Leeds Rhinos edge out their spirited hosts Coventry Bears 20-16.
The Bears made their determination for a result against their illustrious opponents clear from the opening stages, crunching into a challenge for the ball after Leeds had fumbled possession, whilst Rhinos went in swiftly on Peter Ryan as the physicality of the game was amped up right from the start.
Rhinos opened their account for the afternoon thanks to Corey Johnson’s impressive run who swept through the Coventry challenges and went between the posts, Harvey Spence converting for a 6-0 lead.
Leeds continued to impress and worked the ball well in possession, but also pressed and challenged their opponents firmly with hard tackles when Bears were playing the ball.
Coventry would eventually get on the scoreboard themselves and found a gap down the left, allowing Hayden Freeman to cross the try-line although the conversion was wasted.
The scoreline was overturned when Will Tully crept over the line with four Leeds defenders attempting to hold him back, Nick Newman – a recent arrival, converted to put Bears in front.
Owen Trout secured a try in response for Leeds whilst Harvey Spence converted to reverse the scores and put Rhinos a couple of points in front.
The game had descended into an end-to-end contest which made for perfect Friday night viewing under the lights, as the Bears continued to pile pressure on the Leeds back-line.
They would break through when a low kick along the surface was clinched by Jacob Jones to secure a try for his side, Newman converting for a second time to make it 16-12 for Coventry at half-time.
Liam Whitton made no mistake when bringing over the line straight from the restart, but with the conversion missed, the two sides were deadlocked.
It was mid-way through the half when more points were scored, courtesy of Joe Burton to take the lead for a third time, his try would ultimately prove the difference between the two sides even with the conversion missed – closing the game with a 16-20 scoreline.
Coventry now await their 17th February opener when they host West Wales Raiders to kick-off their 2019 league campaign.