Coventry Bears 8 – 28 Newcastle Thunder

Newcastle Thunder made a wining start to their 2020 Betfred League 1 season on Sunday afternoon, but we’re made to work hard work as they took a solid 24-8 win away to Coventry Bears.

It was a result largely decided in the opening half as four tries in the first half-hour gave Simon Finnigan’s side a comfortable lead to work with, as they overcame blustery conditions and having players out of position as they adapted to losing key men to injury.

Newcastle wasted no time in opening their account for the afternoon when Alex Cleg scored the first try of this season’s competition with less than a minute played, as Thunder struck straight from the kcik off.

Carrying out of their half, a midfield break from Adam Lawton put Newcastle immediately onto the front foot and though the giant second row was hauled down by desperate Coventry defence, the former Salford man had the time to pass out to his left where Kieran Gill fed his wing partner in for an unconverted try.

The lead was extended to 10 points with just seven minutes on the clock as Gill strolled in from close range as he scored his first league try of the season and gave the visitors a comfortable advantage from the early endeavours.

Coventry regrouped well after that early deluge and managed to resist further pressure from Newcastle until Lewis Young added his side’s third try on 25mins. 

Coming into his side’s attack from deep, a lofted basketball pass found the fullback perfectly and allowed him to continue his angled run through the drifting Bears defence.

As at the start of the half, it was to be the first of a quick-fire brace of tries on the same edge as quick hands and a cut-out pass worked the ball out wide to the right to club stalwart Joe Brown on 28 minutes, with the Jamaican international taking advantage of the space created.

The Bears got themselves onto the score sheet in the final seconds of the half when Reece Rance was played in on the last tackle and clawed back another four points early in the second half through Nathan Hill.

Having turned Thunder over in the same fixture last year, a ten point gap and a strong wind to their backs would have given the Bears some hope of fighting their way back, but it was a task that was made harder as the hour approached thanks to Scottish international Sam Luckley.

A forward renowned for strong, powerful carries, the man from North Shields broke down the middle of the park before stepping the Coventry fullback and fending off two last ditch attempts for a well taken converted try.

For the remainder of the half, a host of errors stymied any further impressions on the scoreboard from Newcastle before a solo effort from Sam Blake allowed the visitors the final word in the game.

Breaking from the play the ball after feigning a pass out wide, the returning signing powered his way past the last defender to give his side a twenty-point advantage at the final hooter.

Next up for Thunder is the visit of Workington Town to Kingston Park this coming Sunday, kick off 3pm

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Joe Brown, Ashley Gibson, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Quentin Laulu Togaga’e, Reece Dean, Brenden Santi, Bob Beswick, Mikey Wood, Adam Lawton, Jed Charlton, Evan Simons, Sam Blake, Sam Luckley, Harry Aldous, Jake Lightowler

Tries – Clegg (1), Gill (7), Young (25), Brown (28), Luckley (55), Blake (79)

Goals – Dean 2/6

Coventry Bears

Nathan Hill, Hayden Freeman, Liam Welham, Kadeem Williams, Reece Rance, Kieran Smith, Morgan Punchard, Kieran Moran, Doug Chirnside, Peter Ryan, Brad Clevering, James Thornton, Ryan Langton, Sam Moorhouse, Will Budd, Chris Cullimore, Ben Gray, Harry Kaufman, Cameron Stewart, Alex Williams, Leon Harber

Tries – Rance (39) Hill (49)

Goals – 0/2

Attendance – 384

Thunder Man of the match – Alex Clegg