Nottingham Outlaws 44 : Coventry Bears 6

Nottingham Outlaws unbeaten league run continued on Saturday when they put a strong Coventry Bears side to the sword, recording an emphatic 44-6 victory at Lenton Lane on Saturday.

The Outlaws went into the match with a side sporting a number of changes from the team that ran out in the friendly at Moorends the weekend before. The changes included the return of last season’s captain Alex Whittle who was having his first hit-out of the season and debutant Harry Watts.

The match started and right from the get-go it was clear that both teams were playing with contrasting styles, Coventry playing down the middle utilising their big pack of forwards whilst the Outlaws were looking to use their superior pace and movement out wide at every opportunity.

After ten minutes of fairly even rugby the Outlaws opened their account as winger Jimmy Goodwin scored after running over the top of his opposite number to nudge the Outlaws 4-0 ahead.

Having inched ahead the Outlaws let their opponents into the game and on the back of a knock on and a penalty they marched into the Outlaws red-zone and the home side could do little to stop their big forwards driving over from short range to nudge the Bears ahead 6-4.

Stung by this reversal the Outlaws went back on the hunt for more try’s and scrum half Tom Wigglesworth soon found the key to the door, eluding a couple of tacklers to plant the ball under the sticks. Whitfield added the extras to put the Outlaws ahead at 10-6.

It was a lead that the Outlaws were destined to keep for the remainder of the game.

Once again, the Outlaws made a hash of the play the ball after the restart and the Bears should have scored, only to lose the ball in the act of grounding when a try would have seen them once again pull ahead.

Having been let off the hook the Outlaws were quick to add to the visitor’s misery as pacey centre Cal Foster tore through the line before rounding the full back to score under the sticks for a marvellous forty yarder. Again, Whitfield converted and the Outlaws went into the sheds at 16-6 at the end of forty fairly even minutes.

Coach Shepherd used the break to breath some fresh life into the side with Steve Page and Harry Watts coming on the pitch.

The next try was always going to be important and thankfully from a home perspective it was the Outlaws who got it as Captain Coryn Ward jinked through the Bears defence to open his account for the afternoon as the Outlaws eased out to a three score lead at 22-6.

The Ward try seemed to knock the stuffing out of a Bears side that had competed well but were now rapidly running out of steam.

Sensing the game was there for the taking the Outlaws put the foot on the gas and began attacking at will and the score board soon started moving again as Jimmy Goodwin grabbed his second of the game with a carbon copy try to his first.

Probably the biggest cheer of the day came when Alex Whittle marked his return to the fold with a trademark show and go that opened up a gap big enough for the long-striding halfback to waltz through without a hand being laid upon him. With the Whitfield conversion sailing through the sticks the Outlaws were powering ahead at 34-6.

The home side were in no mood to let their rivals off the hook and in the very next set they extended their lead further whin powerful winger Jimmy Goodwin completed a fine hat trick  with yet another unstoppable surge over the line.

As the clock ticked down the Outlaws had time for one more score and what a try it was!

There seemed little danger when Cal Foster took the ball in hand just inside his own half but the boom centre went on what is now his trademark mazy run, rounding two players before surging through the line, wrong-footing the fullback to score a superb effort under the sticks.

To make matters worse for the visitors the chasing Bears committed a nasty, indeed dangerous foul on the young Outlaws Centre which saw the Bears reduced to 12 players for the remainder of the match.

Despite their numerical advantage the Outlaws did not add to their score and the referee blew for time with the Outlaws holding a commanding 44-6 lead after scoring 22 unanswered points in the second stanza.

After the game the players waited to hear who would walk away with the man of the match bubbly. In such a big win there were a number of players in with a shout such as hat trick hero Jimmy Goodwin and the effervescent Cal Foster who also bagged a fine brace. However, for the second game in a row the award Ali Waring took the vote with a superb effort especially in the first half when his defending kept a bigger Bears pack at bay.

Next week the Outlaws are at home again as they face a struggling Swindon Bulldogs side that is yet to get a point.