A FIRST-EVER Rugby League fixture at Webb Ellis Road in Rugby resulted in a 48-20 defeat for Coventry Bears against Hunslet RLFC in Betfred League 1.
The Bears were ousted by the high-flying visitors in the opening fixture at their temporary home, but could at least take heart from the strong contingent of local fans who attended the game.
In all, over 400 fans were in the crowd for the return of the sport to the town in which it originated, creating a buoyant atmosphere.
The visitors from Leeds were put on the back foot within the first ten minutes, after conceding a try to Chris Taylor – who waltzed through the Hunslet defence before scoring out wide.
Elliott Hall then added the extras to ensure the perfect start for Coventry.
Hall went close to boosting his position as the second-highest try scorer in the league, but was denied by a high tackle that proved a defining moment in the game – despite scoring two more points from the resulting penalty.
Hunslet began to make a comeback after Tommy Ashton raced through the lines to touch down for a converted try, before Josh Tonks added a second of the game to put his side 12-8 up.
Gareth Potts then broke free out wide to cross the whitewash and increase the visitors’ advantage, though Reece Rance responded by embarking on a 30 yard solo run to score a converted try – narrowing the deficit to two points.
But a fourth Hunslet try of the game from Nathan Chappell minutes before the break proved a hammer blow to Coventry’s chances, with the Bears having no choice but to try to mount another second half fightback to stay in contention.
Instead, Hunslet pressed their advantage and remained on the offensive for the opening ten minutes of the half, with Bears unable to retain possession and break into opposition territory.
A break did eventually arise, and the Bears took full advantage.
After two passes following the change of possession, Hall galloped 50 yards to the try line to close the gap to 22-20.
That renewed hope was quickly dashed by Hunslet, who proceeded to run riot with four successive tries.
James Watson claimed the visitors’ first try of the second half, before Reece Dean added Hunslet’s sixth score of the game.
Potts rubbed further salt in the wound with his second of the match, before Dale Broomfield wrapped up the scoring.
The nature to the end of the second half will have left the Bears disheartened, but with plenty of motivation to return to winning ways when visiting basement side West Wales Raiders on Saturday (3pm).