Coventry Bears 58 South Wales Ironmen 16
Butts Park Arena
IN A FINAL flourish after an indifferent season, Coventry Bears completely overpowered South Wales Ironmen as they recorded their biggest victory since joining semi-professional Rugby League three years ago, writes Mike Hyde.
For both sides, Saturday’s Butts Park encounter was always going to be more about pride and the future than any league standing.
Bears were determined to end the season on a high note as their team continues to be rebuilt in readiness for next year and beyond and, with the move to West Wales having already taken place, this was the last occasion the pale grey Ironmen shirts would be seen in combat.
Coventry were quick to show they meant business as prop Brad Brennan bulldozed his way between the posts with less than two minutes gone and former Ironman Paul Emanuelli converted with ease.
Just two minutes later Brennan powered over again, this time to the right of the sticks and again the conversion followed.
Still with only eight minutes on the clock, the Coventry onslaught continued as Jamahl Hunte caught the ball after a well placed kick to score his first try of the game. Although the conversion was not forthcoming, the Bears had already ruthlessly built a 16-0 lead and looked unstoppable.
That was until Bears full back Mikey Russell easily caught the ball after an Ironmen kick and was running upfield, when Connor Farrer cheekily snatched the ball from him in the tackle and went on to cross the line for a South Wales try and Ben Jones further pulled back the score to 16-6.
Bears took a while to regain their composure after this setback, but then Hayden Freeman swept through the opponents and scored a solo try from the halfway line to restore the margin.
Then, following one of the most flowing moves of the game involving several Bears players, Brad Delaney evaded the South Wales defence and put his name on the scoresheet, with Emanuelli further punishing his old team mates with the conversion.
Bears’ next try was another long distance solo affair, this time from Matt Reid as he sprinted half the length of the field, with Emanuelli once more adding two points.
Hunte then scored again on the right wing and was instrumental also in getting Emaunuelli over for a try to give the home side a commanding 36-point half time lead.
Two minutes into the second half crowd-pleaser Jamahl Hunte was over for his hat-trick, but the South Wales team did not give in, however hopeless their task, and were rewarded with a Jack Uren try on 57 minutes.
The game then entered a rather stale patch before Christiaan Roets further narrowed the score for the away side with Ben Jones converting to make it 48-16.
This try woke the slumbering Bears and Russell atoned for his earlier embarrassment with a well taken try after being set free on the left. The conversion was missed, but Bears were in the ascendancy again.
Then in the dying minutes Chris Barratt scored Bears’ final try of the afternoon, with Emanuelli adding two more points to his tally.
The hooter sounded on what had been the Ironmen’s last ever game and a famous Coventry victory in front of a good crowd, including some ‘first-timers’, Coventry United fans who had seen their side in action earlier that day at the BPA.
Bears now go into hibernation until February but, on this showing, they could well be a force to be reckoned with next season.