8th Apr, 2020

REPORT: Coventry go top after nail-biting Bishop's Stortford win

RUGBY UNION: COVENTRY moved three points clear at the top of the National League One table following a nail-biting win against Bishop’s Stortford.

A stoppage time penalty kick from Will Maisey ensured Rowland Winter’s men turned a likely draw into a win, and subsequently built a solid lead at the top of the table after just six games.

Coventry were helped further when it was confirmed title rivals Darlington had lost their fixture.

The day wasn’t all plain sailing though. Coventry lost scrum-half Pete White on 27 minutes when he was stretchered off with a leg injury, suspected to be ligament damage.

Rob Knox also had to leave the field on 71 minutes with several finger injuries.

The injuries created a great deal of additional time, which only added to the game’s drama.

More than 1,700 people turned out at the Butts Park Arena. Despite the support, it was the visitors that drew first blood when winger Chris Smith went over on the right – fly-half George Cullen converted.

James Stokes pulled a try back for Coventry, though Will Maisey’s mis-judged kick saw Bishop’s Stortford retain their lead.

Stortford’s Cullen then kicked the first of five penalties to stretch the visiting side’s lead to five points.

Coventry then took control of the game for the first time when Sam Tuitupou crossed for his first try while Maisey’s kick ensured Winter’s men led 12-10.

The lead last only six minutes though when Cullen kicked his second penalty to hand the visitors a one-point lead.

Anthony Matoto added Coventry’s third try which was converted to swing the tide back in the home side’s favour once more.

An injury to White dented Coventry’s progress as Cullen’s penalty reduced the gap between the sides to just three points.

Stortford regained the lead for a third time on 54 minutes when flanker Rory Banks scored.

Two points behind, Coventry dug deep again to earn another penalty – which Maisey kicked home from 30 metres.

Cullen earned Stortford the lead again when he matched Maisey’s kick before Stokes made it 27-24 in favour of Coventry after running 45 metres to earn Coventry’s fourth try – which confirmed a bonus point.

Stortford were back level with three minutes to go when Cullen took his match tally to 17 points with another penalty.

But Winter’s men had the last laugh when Maisey kicked the decisive penalty to earn Coventry a hard-fought 30-27 win.

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