The Hornets held their own during the opening exchanges, and got off to a positive start after Karl Jones
’ kick off found touch – providing South Wales with an attacking scrum in the opposition half.
From there, a carry from debutant Mark Jones
set the tone for a physical opening quarter, but staunch defending from the hosts prevented South Wales from capitalising.
Sets for either side ensued; Simon Wright
found James O’Donnell who looked to be away until snagged by a last-ditch tackle and the pair then forced Thomas Davies into touch.
Another right-sided Coventry attack was quelled by Adam Watton
forcing Tobias Rochester-Bremner into touch, before enterprising play on the last tackle saw Hornets half-back Ian Newbury
release Rhys Bull
, who unfortunately went away from his support in search of the try line.
The visitors were to go close once more – Jones fed James Mason
but the teenager lost control of the ball as the try line presented itself – before back-to-back penalties for the Bears finally saw the deadlock broken. A tap penalty was fed to Scott Clendenning-Fenton and the half-back stepped his way over from close range.
Having claimed the ascendancy, the Bears soon doubled their advantage as Thomas Charles-Davies backed up a lengthy Tawanda Chipadza foray. Stephen Coleman again converted.
South Wales managed to settle however, and after another strong carry from Mark Jones
, Mike Hurley
’s kick on the last drifted over both Adam Watton
and his opposite number enabling centre O’Donnell to touch down. Hurley’s touchline conversion struck the post, but the visitors had a foothold in the game again.
With half-time approaching the Hornets almost added a second try, but prop Charlie Rogers
was held up short and Karl Jones
’ kick on the last tackle evaded everyone for a 20m restart.
At the start of the second half the Hornets were dealt two significant blows as Dan McGuire
had a setback as he recovers from a hamstring injury, and Jones’ severely bandaged eye had split – leaving the visitors with just 13 men.
The fresher Bears took full advantage as a long-range Paul Hannah try seemed to pierce the visitors’ first half optimism. From the restart, Tyrone Rowe went the length of the field to score.
South Wales continued to battle on and Jones almost forced his way over – which would have been a fitting return after a 14-match suspension – before Mason again went close. From the resulting play-the-ball, Wright’s kick bobbled into the in-goal area but Tim Leishman managed to escape a tackle and keep the ball in play.
The speedy Chipadza then got a try of his own just before the hour mark, before adding his own long-range effort after scooting from inside his own half. His good work was about to be undone by punching out, which saw him receive a red card, but Rowe’s second of the afternoon on the final whistle confounded the Hornets to a fourth straight defeat.
1 Tim Leishman
2 Tawanda Chipadza
3 Thomas Davies
4 Ashley Johnson
5 Tobias Rochester-Bremner
6 Chris Stevenson
7 Scott Clendenning-Fenton
8 Mike Venn
9 Luke Sharma
10 Elliot Hurst
11 Stephen Coleman
12 Thomas Charles-Davies
13 Ben Vivian
Subs (all used)
14 Tyrone Rowe
15 Mark White
16 Paul Hannah
17 Tom Tsang
Tries: Clendenning-Fenton (25), Charles-Davies (28), Hannah (44), Rowe (46, 79), Chipadza (57, 72), Vivian (77)
Goals: Coleman 6/8
Red card: Chipadza (79)
SOUTH WALES HORNETS
1 Simon Wright
2 Dafydd Hellard
3 James O’Donnell
4 Nathan Morgan
5 Adam Watton
6 Ian Newbury
7 Karl Jones
8 Mark Jones
9 Mike Hurley
10 Charlie Rogers
11 Christian Francis
12 James Mason
13 Dan McGuire
Subs (all used)
14 Rhys Bull
15 Craig Smith
Try: O’Donnell (34)
Referee: Jason Sykes