The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Co-Operative Rugby League Conference
Midlands Premier Division
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS 24 - 60 COVENTRY BEARS
The Gloucestershire Warriors gave the defending champions Coventry Bears a fright before finally succumbing to their opponents' superiors scoring power. The 60-24 scoreline barely reflects on the Warriors' efforts in this game where they scored four quality tries but their defence let them down at times though in attack, they had moments of skill and adventure that had the Bears chasing shadows.
After twelve minutes, the Warriors led 12-0 but the Bears had squandered three glorious opportunities to score.
In the first attack of the game, the Bears were penalised and the Warriors made them pay. Paul O'Connor skipped past two defenders and accelerated away to the posts for a debut try. Immediately afterwards a superb break out wide from Tom Mahendron split the defence and Andrew Benger was on hand to race away to the posts. With Ben Phillips adding both conversions, a shock result seemed to be possible.
The Warriors almost scored again after great hands from Benger had created a little space for his winger but after eight minutes of play, the Bears finally got their hands on the ball and began to play.
However, anxiety cost them three tries in the space of five minutes. The division's top try-scorer Scott Clendenning-Fenton lost the ball over the line before poor passes went to the floor out wide as the Bears found their feet.
Finally Nikki Hemopo dummied his way over, Glen Burnside kicking the first of his seven goals and the Bears roared back. Brad Massey scored before Sam Montague blasted through the defence for a long range score and the Bears began to look like defending champions.
The Warriors were struggling defensively and beginning to make mistakes on attack while the Bears were more composed. Aron Jarvis stretched over, Burnside's goal attempt hitting the post before Matt Evans crossed to extend their lead.
The Warriors had a period of play on the Bears line before the end of the half but could not break through. Luke Watts had no such problems forcing his way over despite suspicions that he may have dropped the ball with the last move of the half.
With a comfortable-looking 34-12 interval lead the Bears were in control and neither side was able to score in the opening ten minutes as the Warriors matched their opponents blow for blow.
Finally, Hemopo found the gap to score an unconverted try fir the visitors but the Warriors replied, Ben Brinkworth crashing over from close range and Phillips converted to peg the gap back slightly.
Clendenning-Fenton crossed for an easy six-pointer before Brinkworth again exploited soft Bears' goal-line defence by scoring his second try, converted this time by Mahendron.
In the final few minutes, the Bears added to their score through Danny Wilding, converted this time by Hemopo, Watts and Rob Callaway gilded the lily finishing the final move of the match with a try.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS: Mike Spencer-Tonks, Rich Carter, Ben Phillips, Andrew Benger, Ashley Lewis, Chris Furze, Tom Mahendron, Simon Taylor, Paul O'Connor, Ben Brinkworth (Capt.), Kirk Lewis, Chris Cleaver, Dale Cook. Replacements: Sam Chappell-Davies, Shay Lewis, Adesina Obileye, Jonathan Huxtable, Neal Broadbent, Gavin Butler, Tom James.
Scorers: Tries; Paul O'Connor (2), Andrew Benger (4), Ben Brinkworth (55, 62). Conversions; Ben Phillips 3 from 3, Tom Mahendron 1 from 1.
COVENTRY BEARS: Sam Montague, James Horrucks, Danny Wilding, Brad Massey, Matt Fielder, Nikki Hemopo, Scott Clendenning-Fenton, Ryan Jenkins (Capt.), Nick Thatcher, Matt Evans, Luke Watts, Tom Watts, Rob Callaway. Replacements: Aron Jarvis, John Nicholls, Glen Burnside, Simon Stubbs, Alan Robinson.
Scorers: Tries; Nikki Hemopo (15, 52), Brad Massey (19), Sam Montague (22), Aron Jarvis (27), Matt Evans (33), Luke Watts (39, 71), Scott Clendenning-Fenton (58), Danny Wilding (67), Rob Callaway (79). Conversions; Glen Burnside 7 from 10, Nikki Hemopo 1 from 1.
Referee: Ian Waters
Man of the match:
Warriors: Ben Brinkworth
Bears: Matt Evans
Penalties: Warriors 12, Bears 13.
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 12-6, 12-12, 12-18, 12-22, 12-28, 12-34, (HT), 12-38, 18-38, 18-44, 24-44, 24-48, 24-54, 24-60, (FT).
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