RICH Squires praised a “complete performance” as Coventry Bears celebrated his birthday with an accomplished 24-18 victory at home to Keighley Cougars.
In an entertaining and competitive rearranged Betfred League One fixture on Friday night, the Bears outplayed, outfought and out-thought their hosts to chalk up a fourth win of the season.
“From our point of view it was the complete performance that has been building over the last few games,” said a delighted head coach.
“All aspects of our game were done to the highest ability and we restricted a very skilful and well drilled team to a minimum. We are playing very confidently at the moment and it’s a pleasure to watch and we need to keep moving in the right direction.”
Dan Coates and Liam Welham both got across the line for Bears tries in the first half, with Coates booting two penalties to lead 16-8 at half-time.
A pair of tries either side of the break from Quentin Laulu Tongaga’e had given the Cougars hope but two tries in three minutes just before the hour mark from Darius Hamilton and Sam Bowring clinched the win.
Keighley’s challenge was quickly snuffed out by the hosts’ gritty resolve and late scores from Charlie Graham and Mo Agoro couldn’t deny the Bears.
After an even start, the hosts broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when halfback Coates threw a wicked sidestep metres from the Cougars line, and waltzed through.
The Bears continued their bright start and almost got themselves in again seven minutes later when Ryan Langton broke the Keighley line, but his attempted offload didn’t pay off.
However, they didn’t have to wait much longer. Three minutes later they dared to keep the ball alive on the last and it paid off, with Welham crashing in on a arching run.
Cougars hit back midway through the half with their first meaningful attack of the game. After good work from Jason Muranka, they moved the ball left for Graham to finish smartly.
Coates restored the Bears’ two-score cushion five minutes later, slotting a penalty awarded for a high tackle on Jed Charlton. He then added another seven minutes after that, punishing a Cougars offside.
Right on half time, the visitors struck again. This time, it was their turn to run it on the last tackle, neatly feeding Laulu Togaga’e in the corner.
The winger was in again five minutes after the break. After a period of sustained Cougars pressure, they ended up with a huge overlap on the left edge and Laulu Tongaga’e profited.
The Cougars continued to dominate possession but the Bears were resilient in their goal line defence, forcing a number of errors.
And their effort was rewarded fifteen minutes into the half, when Hamilton managed to hoist a Dave Scott grubber into his arms and score his first professional try.
Three minutes later they were in again. When Coates’ deft pass went to ground everyone in the Butts Park Arena seemed to stand and stare, apart from Bowring, who scooped it up to score.
That swung the whole balance of the game back in favour of the hosts. From then on, it was all about the Bears’ game management – they never looked in danger of letting Keighley back into it.
The Cougars did have the final say with a diving finish in the corner from Agoro with the last play of the game, but it mattered little and, frankly, gave his side a flattering final tally.
Coventry head up the M6 on Sunday when they travel to leaders Barrow Raiders (3.00).