COVENTRY Bears sit on top of the League 1 table, ahead of welcoming Newcastle Thunder on Sunday, after a crushing 28-4 win over West Wales Raiders on the opening day of the season.
It proved the highest margin of victory recorded in the league at the weekend, with over 500 fans making their voices heard at Butts Park Arena.
The Raiders came into the game with ten debutants – which would always prove an interesting point of contention as to whether they could instantly gel.
Eager to impress, they almost snatched an early lead – but instead of going for a try, they decided for a penalty kick – but squandered the opportunity.
Coventry’s defence remained resolute in the face of West Wales pressure in their defensive half.
And it would be from their own territory where they would make the breakthrough.
Hayden Freeman sprinted 80 yards across the pitch and touched down, converted by Nicholas Newman for a 6-0 lead.
Freeman then intercepted and in even more impressive fashion, ran a good 100 yards to cross the try line for a converted try, ultimately sealing the game.
Despite their best efforts to claim points in the game, it was not to be for Raiders, but it was not for the want of trying.
Similarly though, Bears were just as wasteful with their chances and were unable to extend their advantage.
Their best success was found on the counter-attack, as Elliott Hall this time took it upon himself to embark on a lung-busting run, crossing from 75 yards and allowing Newman to kick a hat-trick of conversions.
Raiders came out in the second-half still relenting despite the deficit that faced them, and were punished on the break once more following a Jacob Jones try conceded on the left of the field – followed by the conversion.
Dante Morley-Samuels added his name to the scoresheet after a free-flowing move, whilst the Raiders finally added points of their own when Rowland Kaye scored in the 72nd minute.
It wasn’t quite the 66-4 victory from the previous season, but Bears will be equally as delighted with the end result.
Bears coach Tom Tsang welcomed the win with open arms, but admitted his side would need to build on the victory and work on different aspects in training.
It is set to be another stern test on Sunday, when Newcastle Thunder come to town, but Tsang and co. will hope it’s a second victory of the season at Butts Park Arena come the final whistle.