Coventry Bears 16 Leeds Rhinos 20: Burrow's young side claw out win over Bears
A VERY young Leeds Rhinos side dug deep to win 20-16 in the snow at Betfred League One Coventry Bears last night.
Coventry deservedly led 16-12 at half-time, but Leeds controlled the second period, though the result was in the balance until the end.
Rhinos coach Rob Burrow selected only one player – Alex Sutcliffe – who is not academy qualified and five players who have just moved up into the under-19s.
A more experienced Rhinos line-up romped to a 74-14 win at Butts Park a year ago, but Coventry – who beat both Keighley Cougars and Hunslet last season – look a better team now.
In the opening 40 they made their size count and scrum-half Nick Newman caused Leeds problems with his kicking game ,which created two of the hosts’ first-half tries.
Pace was obviously Rhinos’ most effective weapon and they scored two tries out wide to go ahead in the third quarter, though Coventry defended well under heavy pressure after that.
Rhinos took an early lead through Corey Johnson who stepped over from acting-half 20 metres out, but Hayden Freeman touched down for the hosts after Leeds’ defence failed to deal with a kick, then big substitute Will Tully crashed in and Callum Merrett’s goal made it 10-6.
Jack Broadbent got Leeds back on the front foot with a strong break before linking with Johnson to send Owen Trout over for a converted try, but Bears regained the lead when another Newman kick was touched down by Jacob Jones.
Merrett’s conversion made it 16-12, but Leeds were level within 30 seconds of the restart, Liam Whitton finishing off Broadbent’s break after Johnson and Spence had handled across the line.
Freeman made an outstanding tackle to keep Liam Tindall out and Trout spilled the ball over the line, but Leeds hit the front on 56 minutes through a strong finish by Joe Burton.
Neither try was converted and there was no more scoring though Whitton had a ‘try’ ruled out for a forward pass, Trout knocked on just short and Tom Holroyd was held up over the whitewash.
Coventry Bears: Morley-Samuels, Hall, Freeman, Pearce-Paul, Rance, Merrett, Newman, Glover, Conroy, Ryan, Jones, Barratt, Gray. Subs: Shaw, Sheridan, Purslow, Tully, Mason, Kaufman, Carter, Williams.
Leeds Rhinos: Whitton, Hamill, J Burton, Broadbent, Tindall, Spence, Anderson, Holroyd, Johnson, Mustapha, Trout., A Sutcliffe, McConnell. Subs: O Burton, Georgiou, Moorhouse, Stephens, Scrimshaw, Martin.
Referee: Steve Race (Wakefield).