THE WHEELS have come off the promotion train for Coventry after a second consecutive defeat in National League One leaves them six points behind Ealing Trailfinders.
Hartpury came away with a narrow 22-20 win on their first ever visit to the Butts Park Arena on Saturday and deservedly took the points away from a Coventry side that for the second match running failed to deliver.
It could have been a different story had the usually reliable Cliffie Hodgson landed a late penalty in injury-time but his effort slid across the face of the posts.
The early signs were not good for the hosts who struggled in the set scrums although with five minutes played Hodgson nudged his side in front with a well taken penalty, but that was as good as it got for the home support in the opening period.
With Hartpury largely dominating territory and Coventry building up the errors the visitors were able to take a 15-3 lead by the 33rd minute.
Fly half Gareth Thompson landed a ninth minute penalty before full back Alex Brown finished a fine passing move to cross for the first try of the match which Thompson converted.
And the lead grew further when shortly after the half-hour mark a deep penalty into touch allowed Loti Bowden to be power over but this time the conversion was missed.
Coventry had a chance to score just before the break but winger Will Hurrell was well held towards the line and a yellow card for Sam Pailor which made the home side’s task all the more harder when the two sides returned after the break.
The signs looked promising early in the second half with the hosts having the elements behind them and in the 42nd minute replacement Matt Jones skipped through and Jones himself converted to move Coventry to within five points of their opponents.
On 53 minutes the hosts were hit by some quick, decisive running and scrum half Ben Vellacot finished in style for Thompson to again covert for 10-22, which left the hosts with a lot to pull back.
To their credit they did well to find a way back into the match. First flanker Loti Molitika claimed a try from close range which Hodgson converted and three minutes later Hodgson himself landed a penalty and all of a sudden it was game on with Hartpury now down to 14 men.
But that was the closest Coventry got as the visitors put up a brave fight to keep Coventry out before Hodgson had a chance to be the hero in the fifth minute of added on time but his penalty kick slid wide.
Head coach Scott Morgan now has time to lift his squad with a week’s break before they look to get their promotion charge back in track when they travel to Darlington Mowden Park.