HEAD coach Tom Tsang believes Coventry Bears’ experience in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup against Super League outfit Widnes was a fantastic one, despite a crushing 90-0 defeat.
Bears fans travelled in their numbers up the M6 to watch their side take on the seven-time cup winners in the glorious sunshine.
Playing Widnes was the reward for overcoming two strong amateur sides to reach the fifth round but it was eventually one round too far as the hosts cruised to a resounding victory.
“From the coaches and players perspective we need to take the day for what it was – a fantastic experience for all involved and a reward for good performances earlier in the competition,” said Tsang.
“Widnes were pure class both on and off the field and we will learn a lot from the day on all fronts.
“The speed and intensity by Widnes was at a level few, if any, of our lads will have faced before.
“Having played Bradford and Widnes in consecutive weeks, we now need to start applying the lessons we have learnt in the upcoming league matches, starting with London Skolars on Sunday.”
The game was only a minute old when Widnes’ Alex Gerrard slipped through three Bears defenders before passing the ball to Aussie Rhys Hanbury who scored the first of what was to be his hat-trick before the interval, with a further try after the break.
Three minutes later, the home side were over again, and again, and again.
The Bears did all they could to resist the overwhelming power of the Vikings’ blitz, but the home side were piling on the points at a faster rate than minutes were elapsing on the clock.
Despite being outclassed and outgunned by the big powerful Vikings, the Bears refused to give in.
They tried to play good rugby and carry out moves that would have paid dividends against lesser opposition.
And the Bears fans were still in good voice, despite the 54-0 deficit at half-time.
The Bears came out for the second half with nothing to lose and were clearly playing better, with flowing passing moves, gaining territory but still unable to make the final breakthrough.
And they were better at slowing their opponents down, working together to halt their opponents in their tracks.
But the Widnes try machine was still relentless, and the score hit 80-0 with 15 minutes to go.
Coventry’s loyal band of fans feared for the worst, a repeat of the 102-0 a Coventry Rugby League team suffered in 1913 against Leeds.
But still the visitors resisted and now it wasn’t just the Bears supporters but pockets of home fans cheering and applauding a Midlands rooted side giving its all, despite the gulf in every department.
Danny Craven and returning superstar Patrick Ah Van both notched hat-tricks with six other names on the scoresheet.