A FINE 36-25 comeback victory at Doncaster Knights’ Castle Park moved Coventry up to fourth in the RFU Championship.
In the final fixture before the rugby season drew to a sudden halt amid the growing coronavirus crisis, Rowland Winter’s men overturned a nine-point deficit to run out victors in a thrilling encounter.
A hat-trick of penalties from Doncaster’s Sam Olver got the hosts up and running inside the opening eight minutes to the delight of the home crowd.
They were silenced, however, when Coventry overturned the deficit in the space of three minutes.
First, Andy Forsyth intercepted during a Doncaster attack to run in a try from 50 metres on 12 minutes, followed by Ryan Olowofela’s converted try moments later.
The winger was on hand to receive from Forsyth – who played the sensible option instead of taking on a Knights’ full back – and score. Rory Jennings then added the extras to edge the visitors 12-9 in front.
Coventry stretched out their advantage to eight points when centre Rob Knox strided home with the ball after a superb winding run from Jennings left Doncaster’s defence in tatters.
However, the Knights were not to be dismissed that easily, launching a comeback to lead 19-17 by the end of the first half.
Foto Lokotui dived over the line midway through the half for a try converted by Olver, who then added a fourth penalty of the game from 40 metres to restore the hosts’ advantage.
Despite finding themselves behind for the second time in the game, Coventry remained confident of changing the course of the game having played the more enterprising rugby in the opening half.
It only took the away side seven second half minutes to put their noses in front for a second time, courtesy of Jennings’ penalty.
A yellow card for Gareth Denman immediately followed to put Coventry back under pressure, although Coventry were undeterred and managed to score a fourth try of the afternoon on 56 minutes.
Ryan Burrows was the man to provide it – driving over after a number of attacking phases – followed by Jennings’ extras.
Doncaster struck just towards the end of Coventry’s sin-bin period to give themselves huge hope, narrowing the gap to just one point at 27-26 after Tom James’ try was converted by Olver.
A second yellow card for the visitors in the 63rd minute would no doubt have left Winter sweating on the sidelines, this time with Jack Ram the man culpable.
Remarkably, considering the consistency which he displayed with his kicking for the hosts, Olver missed a penalty with 14 minutes left to prevent Doncaster taking the lead for a third time.
Jennings showed his rival how it was done, pushing the visitors’ advantage to four points with ten to play.
Knox’s try with a minute remaining finally made the points safe, when receiving a long pass from substitute Tom Kessell before crossing the whitewash for a second time.