MIDLANDS Three West (South) leaders Old Coventrians were victorious in their final fixture prior to the break in play caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
An announcement on Monday evening by the RFU confirmed that both professional and grassroots rugby are to be suspended until Tuesday April 14 at the earliest.
While it remains to be seen when, and if, the remainder of the rugby season will resume, Saturday’s 44-14 win at Stoke Old Boys at least strengthened OCs’ stronghold on the division title with four fixtures left to play.
An enterprising display at Albert Gale Field helped the leaders go 13 points clear of second-placed Berkswell & Balsall after completing their game in hand.
The turgid opening to proceedings meant no scoring took place until midway through the half, when Paul Wilkes scrambled over the line from Josh Kent’s pass following a defensive error.
Once Old Coventrians had their noses in front, there was no looking back as Wilkes turned provider to tee up Don Ames for the second try moments later.
Ollie Clark promptly provided a third, putting the visitors 15-0 up and well on the road to a 15th win this term.
Stoke’s first score, a converted try following a scrum, provided a timely reminder that the match was not yet won.
But Michael Ryan’s darting run over the whitewash, following a move involving Jake Shellis and Elliot Sheepy – who converted the extras – re-enforced Old Coventrians’ grip on the points before the break.
With a try bonus point already secured, the away side continued their offensive approach and notched their second converted score of the game.
This time it was Corey Joy who provided it, finishing from Jake Shellis’ feed, while Sheepy again was successful with the conversion.
The next score from Clark was perhaps the most praiseworthy, as a move started from a defensive scrum led to a quick breakaway by Jake Shellis, who put in the hard yards before setting up his teammate for OCs’ sixth try.
Stoke took advantage of a slight numerical advantage – following three yellow cards for Old Coventrians and two for the hosts – to add a second converted try.
It was the away side who had the last laugh though, going further in front through Scott Parry from Tom Fletcher’s surging run, followed by a try from young second row Jack Fennell.
Should play get back underway after the current suspension, a Coventry derby will welcome rugby back into the city when Old Coventrians take on Coventry Welsh on Saturday April 18.