COVENTRY Rugby were downed by a last-gasp penalty away to Hartpury in an agonising 23-20 defeat in the RFU Championship.
In a reverse of the previous weekend’s events when Rowland Winter’s side earned a late win over London Scottish, Tiff Eden broke Coventry hearts with his penalty in the final minute of play at Dillingham Park.
An open start led to early chances for both sides, with Coventry opening the scoring on 11 minutes through Rory Jennings’ penalty, moments after Joshua Bragman had wasted his attempt for the hosts.
Bragman did make amends on 21 minutes when firing the ball between the posts, before his teammate Robbie Smith appeared to touch down the opening try – only to be denied by the referee for a block on Scott Tolmie earlier in the move.
Coventry added to Hartpury’s frustration by claiming the first try of the afternoon, courtesy of Max Trimble’s well-timed offload to Rob Knox to touch down. Jennings once again proved successful with his kicking.
A crucial moment in the game occurred just before half-time, when Simon Linsell finished off a swift turnover for the hosts, followed by Bragman’s conversion, to level the scores.
It gave Hartpury the momentum to take the lead eight minutes into the second half, when Seb Nagle-Taylor’s tackle set up a position for Will Safe to touch down a converted score.
Knox closed the gap to two points with 15 minutes remaining after dashing across the try line following the breakdown of a maul.
While Hartpury extended their lead slightly through Eden’s penalty, it was not long before the visitors were back in their opponents half, levelling the scores with six minutes remaining when Ryan Burrows powered his way through to set up Dan Lewis in the corner.
Jennings’ missed conversion was a crucial one however, as the hosts came back in the closing minutes to clinch the match-winning score – courtesy of Eden’s 80th-minute penalty.
Coventry stay fifth in the table and face another big test on Saturday (3pm) when welcoming second-placed Cornish Pirates to Butts Park Arena.