RUGBY UNION: A DOMINANT second half performance saw Coventry storm to a 43-13 win against Rosslyn Park, extending the club’s lead at the top of the National League Division One table.
Rowland Winter’s men are now 12 points clear of second placed Darlington Mowden Park following 13 league matches after Cov’s promotion rivals failed to pick up a bonus point against Ampthill.
And the boss admitted his side had to do it the hard way after a strong start from the home side made things difficult early on.
But a convincing 29-0 score in the second half only put pay to any hopes Rosslyn had of pinching points off the league’s most in-form side.
The first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game saw the Londoners enjoy more possession and success in the scrum.
It took the hosts less than two minutes to open the scoring when Hugo Ellis powered over in the right corner to earn Rosslyn’s only try of the match, Harry Leonard added the extras.
Winter’s side immediately responded though when hard-working Jack Preece turned over possession after a long pass from Will Maisey set Tom Emery free on the left to power over. Maisey’s extras tied the game at 7-7.
Two penalties were converted to stretch Park’s lead to six points before Rob Knox crossed over for Coventry on 25 minutes – Maisey again adding the conversion as Coventry led for the first time at 13-14.
A determined Coventry defence then held Park metres from the try line as two scrums were awarded to the hosts. Resilient defending ensured Coventry held a one-point lead at half time.
The second half proved a total contrast to the opening 40 though.
Hooker Scott Tolmie displayed a blinding turn of foot to score his 11th try of the season before Anthony Matoto added Coventry’s fourth try on 56 minutes to earn the crucial bonus point.
Maisey’s inspired form continued when his kick set-up a line-out in the home 22, which Olly Povoas took full advantage of to cross over.
With Coventry now leading 33-13, the game appeared beyond Park’s reach.
And that thought was underlined when a pair of uncoverted tries from Brett Daynes and Tom Kessell sealed the game.
Coventry boss Winter said he was delighted with how his side responded to their shaky start.
He said: “They (Rosslyn Park) made things tough around the breakdown and in the set piece they really challenged us.
“They have a physical pack and it was a hard contest.
“We had to ride it out and come through, which we did, and that’s what I’m most pleased about.”
The game’s turning point came just before half time when 14-man Coventry held out under severe pressure on their own line to hold a one-point lead heading into half time.
Winter said: “It was a big moment.
“To come out of that was important, and we went into half-time a point up which allowed up to push on.”
Coventry are next in action on Saturday, December 9, at home to promotion rivals Ampthill.