By Ian Golden at The Wern


South Wales Ironmen fought hard to secure their first win of the season, and indeed their first victory since visiting Coventry Bears last season.


The 24-22 victory was in doubt for a period in the second half but the battlers of South Wales in the end held firm and it took a try from one of the club’s original players in Barrie Phillips, brought back into the side on Sunday for the first time this season, to score the winning try.


It wasn’t easy for the Ironmen. After facing Toronto in teaming rain last week, it was from the sublime to the ridiculous on Sunday as much of this game was played in over 25 degree heat. This affected both sets of players, especially in the second half where stoppages totalled over 15 minutes.


With takeover of the club still imminent, the struggles continue for South Wales and keeping a consistent side is just one of them, there were six changes from last week’s heroic line-up, Welsh internationals Morgan Evans and Connor Farrer being just two who were unavailable for selection.


But the patchwork team gelled, and that must be largely thanks to head coach Phil Carleton, one of many who have made sacrifices to keep the club going, and his training park manoeuvres certainly showed.


Ironmen could have scored in under three minutes. Following perfect opening sets from each side, Ben Jones fed Christiaan Roets in the final play of the game’s third set but, albeit under pressure, the normally reliable Welsh international dropped the ball with the try-line gaping.


However he made up for it six minutes later, brilliantly picking up a Paul Emanuelli grubber to ground for the game’s opening try. Emanuelli converted.


Ironmen’s second came from a Coventry defensive error where a goal-line drop-out was needlessly conceded. Errol Carter was close after the third tackle, and from the next play, Roets dived over in the corner. Emanuelli’s conversion was just wide.


Coventry’s errors weren’t helping them. Harry Chapman wasn’t even under pressure when he somehow dropped a ball on his own 20 metre line but the resulting scrum and set were wasted as Coventry regained possession with a pass interception.


The closest the Bears got to a try in the first period was just after the half-hour when Jack Morrison held up over the line, then his side forced a goal-line drop-out.


But from that kick, this time it was Brad Delaney with the slippery fingers. Ironmen got the ball back from the scrum, won a penalty, which Emanuelli happily converted to put the score on 12-0 at the break.


It took just over a minute for Ironmen to increase the lead. Taking advantage of a loose ball, Errol Carter scored in the corner, Emanuelli’s conversion attempt was short.


Bears looked for a try back but the Welsh defence remained cast-iron. Kieran Sherrett was stopped short, then a Billy Gaylor grubber kick was too far for Alex Beddows to latch onto.


They finally got on the board on 49 minutes as the South Wales defence finally cracked. Chapman kicked and Sherrett was on the end of it for a try. Brad Delaney converted.


The tide was turning, despite Coventry losing two players to injury early in the half. Jordan Syme was sinbinned for the Ironmen’s consistent foul play and Bears took advantage straight away, Mikey Russell scoring and Delaney converting.


Emanuelli kicked another penalty goal to increase the Ironmen lead to 18-12 and waste a bit of sin-bin time, but Coventry were soon level. Jack Morrison dived under the sticks and Delaney converted.


Then with eight minutes to go, Coventry took the lead for the first time when Matt Reid found a gap on the right and ran through to score. Delaney missed the conversion.


But with two minutes remaining, following a penalty, Phillips dived over to level the scores. Emanuelli’s conversion secured victory.

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