Hemel Stags were left to lick their wounds after suffering a thumping 52-16 defeat to Coventry Bears in Sunday’s Championship 1 clash.
The Bears are new boys to professional rugby league, but it was not evident as they taught the Stags a lesson by being faster, fitter, leaner and meaner than the Hemel side.
Although the first half was a very even affair, the Bears simply blew their opponents away after the interval.
It was Hemel who took the lead with eight minutes on the clock; a kick through was pounced on by prop James Howitt who fed Jymel Coleman under a mass of markers, with BJ Swindells converting.
Hemel continued to press the Coventry line – Helliwell being held up before Coleman put in a useful 40-20 kick that led to nothing when the ball was spilled from the scrum.
It was Stags pressure that brought about Coventry’s opening try, however, as Billy Sheen latched on to a Hemel pass and sprinted 80 yards to the line. Connor Robinson made the first of his eight successful conversions to level the scores.
It was true end to end stuff as first Coventry and then Hemel forced goal-line dropouts with telling attacks, but Coventry went ahead on the half hour mark as a kick on the last found enough space in a static Hemel defence for Jamal Hunte to run on, collect the ball and touch down. Robinson’s conversion was the last score of the half.
The opening 10 minutes of the second period saw the Bears register three unanswered tries in a spell that Hemel had no answer to, with the visitors appearing flat-footed and a yard off the pace.
First up Matt Cooper touched down, then Hunte went over on the left wing following a fine flowing series of passes, before Sheen added the third – with all of the tries being converted by Robinson.
Michael Brown replied for Hemel in the 54th minute following some good passing through hands on a last tackle power play, and he crossed the whitewash again 10 minutes later.
The two tries sandwiched possibly the best try of the game, as the Bears worked the ball all the way from the Hemel 20-metre line to make the score 36-16
The final 10 minutes produced another three unanswered Coventry tries as the Hemel defence was in tatters.
The first of the three had an element of luck to it as a kick on the last was pounced on by Matthew Marsh, and there was huge doubt as to whether he grounded the ball correctly. Robinson missed his only kick of the game as he thumped the ball into the right hand upright.
A break by Guzdek led to Billy Sheen getting his hat-trick, and the final try was started by Sheen, with Matthew Marsh crossing for his treble.
It is true to say that the Coventry side contained a fair number of dual registered players from Hull KR and other Super League clubs.
But Hemel cannot lay the blame for a second heavy defeat in seven days on anything but their own performance which fell way short of what coach Troy Perkins would have been satisfied with. He now has the tough job of trying to turn things round before another testing away game at Oxford.