It was a losing home debut for new Mansfield Woodhouse-based Rugby League club Sherwood Wolf Hunt on Saturday as they went down 34-26 in their first home league game at Slant Lane, to Coventry Bears.
The Bears, a long established club with a team in both the Premier and Merit Leagues, were surprised by the pace, power and ferocity of the Wolf Hunt, both in defence and attack.
The opening 15 minutes were a deadlock with both teams testing out each other’s defence.
Coventry were slightly quicker and well drilled, but the Wolf Hunt matched them in defence.
It wasn’t until the 18th minute that Coventry finally broke through for a try in the corner.
The kick was missed and the Wolf Hunt came straight back with a powerful Declan Dykes try from 40 yards.
However, Coventry responded with two tries in five minutes and the sides went in at half-time Coventry leading 16-6.
The second half was a close affair with Coventry trying to throw the ball around.
Time after time the Wolf Hunt’s ferocious defence repelled them, but after 15 minutes, that defence tired and Sherwood succumbed to three tries in a 15 minute onslaught and looked down and out.
But, never giving up, the ever-developing Sherwood side still had fire in their bellies and came back. Powered by hard running from forwards, George Cassidy, Chris Wright, Scott Thacker, Danny Dykes and Brent Leivers, the Wolf Hunt soon had the Bears on the back foot.
Wolf Hunt backs, Aaron Lane, Declan Dykes and Mason Hardwick beat the tiring Coventry line for power and pace, and with intelligence from stand-off Matt Orton and Adam Bates, they powered over for three late tries, putting them back in contention with Lane able to convert two.
With time running out, the Wolf Hunt were unable to catch the Bears, who won it by eight points. Another five minutes may have changed that, but with this being only their fourth game together, the Sherwood Wolf Hunt are proving they are in the hunt for success and putting the Sherwood Forest area on the Rugby League map.
Coach and captain Adam Bates said: “This was our second league game and for us to compete with a very quick and well organised Coventry team this early on, was a credit to the lads.
“When we stuck to our game plan, we powered over them and our defence held strong for much of the game. That will come. We are building and developing every game. All in all it was a great day for the lads, supporters and sponsors Just Concrete.”
Sherwood Wolf Hunt will play their next game on Saturday, 31st May at Slant Lane when their opponents will be Buxton (2.30pm).