by Andy Coldrick 

Bramley Buffaloes 16 (4)  V Coventry Bears  54 (30)

Coventry Bears kept alive their top 6 hopes with a very comfortable 16-54 win over a poor Bramley Buffaloes team at Stanningley on Sunday.

Buffaloes coach Chris Gardner hopes of building on the performances by his team in their last two games were dealt a severe blow when no less than four players selected dropped out at the last minute. Gardner stepped up and played himself off the bench.  Three more new players stepped in to fill the gaps at the eleventh hour, Michael Meade, Dean Smith and Terry Ioawa.

Coventry came in to this game on the back of three defeats in their last four games but knowing that a victory would lift them back into a play-off place at the expense of Valley Cougars. Although they had a number of positional changes the Bears still looked to have a useful team out on the paddock.

In bright sunshine Coventry kicked off and wee first to score on 8 minutes when a Walsh chip was easily gathered by Bears winger Tanaka Chamunokara who raced 70m unopposed to score under the posts. Coleman converted. The Bears then dominated play as they sought to increase their lead: their forwards were laying a solid platform as the Buffaloes struggled to get into the game. On 15 minutes a Coleman grubber almost produced a second try but the ball went dead. When the Buffaloes did have the ball they made a string of handling mistakes which was eventually punished on 20 minutes when Scott Glendenning-Fenton crossed easily by the posts. Bramley did briefly rally on 28 minutes when Graham Harrison’s high cross-field bomb was collected by Steve Mead, who out jumped the cover defence to collect the ball and score, 4-12. Unfortunately like so often this season, the Bears re-start was knocked on by the Buffaloes and two plays later, from the scrum, Matt Cooper spun out of some shocking defence to score. Two further tries followed for the Bears in the last 6 minutes of the half, firstly Brad Massey easily cut through the home defence and o the whistle Chamunokara scored his second long range try as he raced through a non-existent Buffaloes defence. At 4-12 the Buffaloes were back in the game, however once again mistakes had proved costly and at 4-30 at half time the game appeared over as a contest.

Chris Gardner briefly rallied fluffing spirits with a bulldozing drive to the line to score on 42 minutes. Harrison’s conversion reduced the gap further. Debutant second rower Dean smith made a good break on 45 minutes, finding the supporting Benoit Rogers who in turn found Gardner, however the Bears defence scrambled well to snuff out the threat. Jason Dodd moved from stand off to full back and was not chiming into the line on a regular basis with his strong running and asking a few questions. The Buffaloes though could not sustain their momentum and Rob Brown on the back of some excellent work by his forward grabbed a 5 minute hat-trick of tries, all converted by the reliable Coleman. His first came on 52 minutes when he collected an inside pass that had a hint of a forward pass about it. Three minutes later the Buffaloes defence was in disarray as Massey and Dowding carved them open to hand Brown a walk-in try. Then on 57 minutes the same combination worked again for Brown to complete his hat-trick. Ex-Buffalo Tom Tsang completed the rout on 59 minutes with another very easy score as the Buffaloes defence looked to have given up. Jason Dodd was sin binned on 61 minutes for use of a forearm in the tackle., he was followed by Brad Massey and Steve Mead on 64 minutes for fighting. Ash Taylor grabbed a consolation try on 69 minutes, well converted by Harrison again, 16-54. The game petered out in the last few minutes as both sets of players lost their cool. Liam Walsh and Brad Massey again both got 10 minutes in the bin on 77 minutes.

Coventry were worthy winners, their powerful forwards were dominant throughout and they were clinical with their finishing. In contrast the Buffaloes lost possession too often and too easily , and wee unable to apply any sustained pressure on the Bears. A good day for the Bears who can look forward to staying in the play-offs whilst the Buffaloes continue to struggle both o and of the pitch.

Game Breaker: Coventry’s three tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half finished the game as a contest

Bramley Buffaloes: 1) Michael Meade, 2) Craig Green, 3) Steve Mead, 4) Lewis Barrett, 5) Nick Fontaine, 6) Jason Dodd, 7) Liam Walsh, 8) Dave Parker, 9) Graham Harrison, 10) Ash Taylor, 11) Dean Smith, 12) Benoit Rogers, 13) Graham Nash, Subs: (all used) 14) Ross Peel, 15) Craig Broadbent, 16) Terry Ioana, 17) Chris Gardner

Tries: Steve Mead (28), Chris Gardner (42), Ash Taylor (69)
Goals: Graham Harrison 2/3

Coventry Bears: 1) Tom Tsang, 2) Tawanda Chipadze, 3) Stephen Coleman, 4) Tim Leishman, 5) Tanaka Chamunokara, 6) Scott Glendenning-Fenton, 7) Mark Sloan, 8) Mike Venn, 9) Rob Brown, 10) Ken Dowding, 11) Chad Grant, 12) Brad Massey, 13) Matt Cooper, Subs (all used); 14) Barry McGuffug, 15) Dan Walton, 16) Sam Blaney, 17) Nigel Mukarrat

Tries: Tanaka Chamunokara (8, 40), Scott Glendenning-Fenton (20), Matt Cooper (30), Brad Massey (34), Rob Brown (52, 55, 57), Tom Tsang (59)
Goals: Stephen Coleman 9/9

Half-time: 4-30
Final score: 16-54

Referee: Gareth Evans
Sin Binned: Jason Dodd (Bramley), Steve Mead (Bramley), Brad Massey (Coventry), Liam Walsh (Bramley), Brad Massey (Coventry)

Man of the Match: 
Bramley Buffaloes: Jason Dodd
Coventry Bears: Rob Brown