5th July 2015, 08:14
Triple thriller for Welsh in Conference South
Valley Cougars earned a vital win at Sheffield Hallam Eagles to keep their position at the top of the Conference South. Torfaen Tigers beat Nottingham but Raiders lose to last minute try at Coventry.
SHEFFIELD HALLAM EAGLES 38 VALLEY COUGARS 54
Valley Cougars earned a vital win at Sheffield Hallam Eagles to keep their position at the top of the Conference South.
After slipping up last week against a Nottingham team competing with the Cougars for top spot, the Welsh side were told by Cougars’ coach Dafydd Hellard that only a win was acceptable.
And a win they got, albeit a hard fought one.
The game started rather evenly with both sides testing each other out, Sheffield were pressing on the Cougars line when a hopeful miss pass was intercepted by Lee Goddard who fed the ball inside to try scoring machine Danyl Davies who out sprinted the cover tacklers to score under the posts. Ben Jones converted.
The Cougars started to get a foothold in the game and extended their lead with a well worked Dean Higgs try and a powerful Adam Morgan finish.
Sheffield got a try back through Jordan Parry before a training ground set piece play from the Cougars resulted in a well worked try finished in the corner by Welsh student returnee Yousif Suliman.
But Sheffield fought back with three more tries with Donald Kudangirana, Josh Willmott and Jack Arnold all crossing. Carl Strickson converted all three to make the half time score 24-22 to the Cougars.
The Cougars came flying out of the blocks in the second half and a neat little pass from stand-off Marcus Webb found Adam Morgan who cantered under the sticks.
The remainder of the second half saw sides swap tries with Kudangirana and Willmott each adding their second and Harrison Foster also crossing for the home side with Strickson kicking two more goals.
For the Cougars, Higgs scored his second of the match and Adam Morgan completed his hat trick in unusual circumstances as a one on one rip 40 metres out saw him sprint through leaving the Sheffield team wondering what had just happened.
Four points up going into the last ten minutes, the Cougars stepped up the pace and cemented the game after a try by Ethan Coombes and another 80 metre interception by Danyl Davies with Ben Jones converting to make it 9/9 with the boot.
Hellard said: “Today's performance was just what we needed, the boys have trained really hard this week and we were excited to get back on the field. Sheffield are a class outfit the most pleasing thing today was seeing what was missing from last week’s performance and that was that we wanted to win more than the opposing team."
"The boys have a well-earned rest next week, before hosting fellow Welsh outfit Torfaen Tigers the week after. It was pleasing hearing that they beat Nottingham today to do us a favour but I'm sure they'll be coming to Treharris not wanted to do us any more favours so we need to be ready for that.”
COVENTRY BEARS RESERVES 32 THE RAIDERS 24
Coventry Bears moved to second in the Conference League South as they fought a close battle to narrowly beat a gallant Raiders side who fought a brave battle away from home, the scores being even with two minutes to go.
Raiders travelled to Coventry this week with a different team that defeated Gloucester last week.
Five players were missing - pivot Dan Maiden (work), captain Alan Pope (injury), Andrew Rees (work), Joe Festa (broken foot) and Nathan Beck (injury) so Raiders were up against it from the start.
The game was at a high intensity all the way through and the Raiders opened the scoring with full back Dafydd Daniels ending a fine move by scoring on the right, Alex King converted.
The score remained at 6-0 for the first 20 minutes with both sides showing great determination in their defensive lines.
On 26 minutes Coventry scored a try through Dylan Bale after ongoing pressure on the Raiders’ line with consecutive sets of six.
Joel James and Ben Brown added first half tries for Coventry before Raiders’ Nathan Davies scored through a chip and chase making the half-time score 18-10 to Coventry.
In the second half Coventry started the stronger of the sides and Bale scored his second under the posts.
The Raiders responded by hitting the Coventry left edge with Ben Phillips powering over to bring the score back to 24-14.
Raiders seemed to have their heads back in the game and created another attack to see Josh Taylor go over under the posts, Alex King adding the conversion.
With the scores now 24-20 to Coventry and only 10 minutes remaining the Raiders decided to go all out and put on a full team attack to see Dave Kearnes score in the corner, Alex King missing the conversion this time and the game stood at 24-all with six minutes remaining.
James added a 78th minute penalty to give Coventry a 26-24 lead before a smash and grab try from Alex Brown cemented the win.
Raiders coach Jon Ellis said: “We gave a really good account of ourselves especially as we had five first team players missing. We played well for 80% of the game with a different team from last week. The boys gave everything and I thought a draw would have been a fair result.
“Congratulations to both Valley Cougars for beating Sheffield and to Torfaen Tigers for their win over Nottingham. I’m chuffed to bits that Welsh sides beat such top ranking English outfits, it’s a shame we couldn’t have made it a hat-trick of wins by Welsh sides.”
TORFAEN TIGERS 42 NOTTINGHAM OUTLAWS 32
By Ian Golden at Cwmbran RFC
In a thrilling contest in front of over 100 in Cwmbran, Torfaen Tigers scored three early second half tries against Nottingham Outlaws to see them through 42-32.
The win puts Torfaen just two points below fourth placed Sheffield Hallam Eagles after the Eagles were beaten at home 54-38 by league leaders Valley Cougars.
The Tigers did well for their win especially after being behind early in the game when George Matthew did well to latch onto a grubber kick to give Nottingham an early 4-0 lead. Adam Cunliffe’s conversion was wide.
But as soon as Torfaen regained the ball, a good passing move put Matt Cummins in to level the scores, failing to convert his own try.
And as Nottingham were attacking, Torfaen took advantage of a chance bounce to take the lead. After the ball rebounded off the head of a Nottingham player, Cummins was fed the ball and ran 80 metres for his and Torfaen’s second, converting his own try to put them 10-4 up.
Nottingham looked to hit back but Dai Thomas did well to intercept a pass that would have definitely led to a try.
But after Torfaen conceded a penalty, Nottingham hit back after Jimmy Goodwin slipped through a gap. Cunliffe again missed the kick and the Tigers held a slender two point lead.
Cummins was set over for his hat-trick on the half-hour to increase Torfaen’s lead, the kick was missed to give the home side a 14-8 lead.
It was 20-8 after a dropped ball gifted a try for Sam Hancox with Cummins adding the extras.
But Adrian Chaima was put through to strike back for Nottingham just before the break to bring the score back to 20-12.
Torfaen started the second half well after Micki Watts dived over for an unconverted try before the league’s leading points scorer in Cummins ran over for his fourth try of the day, converting it himself to give the Welsh a three-try cushion.
Ryan Bates slid over for Torfaen’s next try with Cummins converting to make the score 36-12.
Nottingham’s Reece Needham hit back to give them hope before a loose ball gifted Chaima with his second which Dan Smith converted to bring the score back to 36-22.
Torfaen extended their cushion further after Chris Wannell set up Dai Thomas to score with Cummins converting well.
But the game wasn’t over yet as Simon Morton scored two tries in the last ten minutes, the second converted by Smith, but Torfaen had already done the hard work and the game was won.