September 30th, 2016

Coventry taste first league defeat of new season

A FULLY committed display by Hartpury College at the Butts Park Arena saw the visitors win 21-23 and in doing so ended Coventry’s unbeaten run this season, reports Tom Little.

A game that Coventry and indeed their supporters will want to quickly put behind them saw Hartpury out-thought and out-fought their opponents.

The hosts needed to be at their best to defeat a well organised defence as Hartpury carried on from last week as they pulverised a Fylde side.

But Coventry did not help themselves with too many handling errors and no less than 15 points were missed from the boot of Matt Jones.

There was an enforced change before the game started as an ill Adam Parkins was replaced by Chad Thorne, with Terry Sigley replacing him on the bench.

And it was the hosts who made a bright start with a try within two minutes after a delightful chip by Wayne Evans was collected by Dom Lespierre.

Hartbury were not overawed and a five-minute penalty was kicked by full-back Gareth Thompson before within two minutes the visitors were in the lead following a 50m break by the impressive centre Steve Leonard who fed lock James Voss for the try converted by Thompson.

An impressive counter attack almost led to a try in the corner by Cliffie Hodgson who was injured in the process and was replaced on 12 minutes by Caolan Ryan.

By now wingers Lespierre and Nigel (Sam) Baker were seeing plenty of ball but tremendous college defence kept them out.

On 29 minutes George Oliver was held up after a five-metre line-out but from the resulting maul centre Rob Knox surged over. Another Jones miss kept the scores at 10-10.

With three minutes to go until half-time Jones put Coventry ahead with a penalty, but Hartpury never gave up and a spell of recycling possession saw flanker Jake Polledri surge through for the try for Thompson to convert again to put the visitors four points ahead at half-time.

A somewhat bad tempered start to the second half saw Jake Polledri escape after kicking out but on 49 mins lock Steve Pape was not so lucky as he was yellow carded for hauling down a maul.

Coventry took full advantage as another driving maul from a five-metre line-out saw Matt Price go over for his fourth try of the season, but again the try was unconverted and a Thompson penalty put the visitors back in the lead.

The hosts started to lose their discipline and another Thomson penalty on the hour mark but Hartpury five points ahead.

Coventry upped a gear but great defence kept them out leaving them no space despite the best efforts of Dom Lespierre.

A penalty by Jones seven minutes from time gave Coventry some hope but despite battering away at the Hartpury line they held out and even survived two late Jones penalty chances in ten minutes of added time for a deserved victory.

This Saturday Coventry will be looking to make a return to winning ways when they travel to Richmond.

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