COVENTRY Bears head coach Tom Tsang believes his side were hard done by, after putting up a valiant fight against league leaders Whitehaven but losing out 32-18 in Betfred League 1.
Bears overturned an early deficit to lead 14-8 at half-time, but were hit by a Sam Forrester brace early in the second-half, before conceding a trio of late tries to end their chances of a shock victory.
Tsang admits that while his Bears side performed extremely well, work has to be done to improve the conversion of chances to have any chance of winning games.
“I thought we matched Whitehaven brilliantly for 60 minutes of the game and the half time scoreline was well deserved for us,” he said.
“I actually think we should have been further ahead and the missed opportunities cost us in the second half.
“I continue to be encouraged by our fight and endeavour but we must start turning these strong performances into consistent wins.”
After arriving in West Cumbria following a five-hour coach journey, the Bears understandably took a while to find their rhythm and conceded a first-minute try to Andrew Bulman.
The scoreline became 8-0 when Bulman scored a second try of the game, but in similar fashion to the first, missed the conversion and failed to punish the visitors further.
It took a weaving run from Nick Newman to drag Coventry back into contention, opening up the Whitehaven defence to score, which he then converted himself.
A penalty awarded in the Bears favour was duly kicked between the posts to galvanise them further, leading to a go-ahead try from Sam Davis – again converted by Newman – to put them 14-8 up.
Their hard work up to that point was quickly undone though, when moments into the second half, Whitehaven winger Forrester scored a quickfire brace to overturn the scores and put the hosts 16-14 in front.
While the Bears showed great endeavour and determination throughout the half, it ultimately proved fruitless, as three tries in the final ten minutes killed off the game.
James Mossop scored the first, followed by a Jake Moore brace, to put Whitehaven 32-14 up.
Only one of the tries was converted, and while it offered scant consolation, Elliot Hall at least ensured that the Bears scored the final try of the game in the final five minutes to make the final scoreline 32-18.
Bears need to pick themselves up quickly with a further trip to Cumbria awaiting them on Sunday, when they visit seventh-placed Workington Town (3pm).