Coventry Bears 38 Hemel Stags 8
HEMEL Stags’ 12-match winning run came to an emphatic end on Sunday as they were brought crashing back down to earth with a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Coventry Bears.
Superbly led by prop Dan Ljazouli, the Bears were buoyed by Tyrone Rowe’s 70-metre interception try in the 17th minute which set the platform for their dominance.
Coventry went ahead in the third minute – Stags fumbling a high kick and Tawanda Chipadza spinning out of a tackle to cross the line, with Ross Bayston missing the conversion.
The Bears kept up the pressure on the Stags defence, and a kick from Scott Cledenning-Fenton was fielded by Brad Massey who stretched over to score.
Stephen Coleman added the extras to make it 10-0 and put Coventry firmly in control.
Jamaican international Rowe produced his spectacular long distance try soon afterwards, with Coleman converting, but Hemel found a lifeline a minute from half time as some fine interplay sent in prop Illya Radan to score.
However, Coventry continued to dominate after the break and Rowe claimed his second try eight minutes into the second half, latching on to a fine short ball from Clendenning-Fenton. Coleman again added the extras to keep the Bears’ momentum going.
Tom Davies then scored a superb try in the corner to extend the hosts’ lead as Coventry showed great enterprise to move the ball wide and punish their Hemel opponents.
Again Stags threatened to rally, Christian Champion collecting a cross-field kick and going over after back-to-back penalties on the hour to make it 26-8.
However, Ashley Johnson’s interception four minutes later ensured that it was not going to be the visitor’s day, Coleman again landing the extras to put the Bears out of sight.
In the final minute, Coventry crossed for their seventh touchdown – Massey beating off the rearguard for his second score of the day and Coleman nailing the conversion.
All in all, it was a bad day at the office for the previously invincible Stags, but they will be looking to bounce back quickly as they travel to Bristol on Saturday.
Stags still lead the National Conference League Three table, but second-placed Huddersfield have cut the gap to just two points.