ANNOYING, frustrating and certainly baffling for the fans – but Coventry’s scrum coach Boris Stankovich insists that referee Ben Blain got it right in Saturday’s game against Hartpury College,
“I was happy with every decision made by the referee,” said Stankovich. “I thought the referee and his two touch judges were outstanding with the decisions they made at scrum time, even the one where they penalised us in the first half. It was the right call.”
The big talking point after the game was the surreal five-minute spell in the second half which saw four scrum penalties on the Hartpury five-metre line, four resets and yellow cards for two College props as Cov pressed for a pushover score.
Instead of the penalty try the fans were appealing for, it only led to uncontested scrums and nullified Cov’s advantage up front – but Stankovich said the referee had no other option.
“I think the referee’s officiating was outstanding,” he said. “The issue for me was that we weren’t going forward, so he made the right decisions in yellow carding the two props for persistent infringements.
“In my opinion you can only award a penalty try if there’s a clear indication that you’re going forward and, unfortunately, we weren’t at that time.
“You can say that we weren’t able to because of the infringements, but it meant we had 15 on 13, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.”
Added Stankovich: “The disappointing thing for me is that the game was there to be won, and its slipped out of our hands.
“We had our chances in the last ten minutes to win the game, but we’ve made a system error in defence with one of our players coming out and not looking at the half-back who’s taken the hole and it led to a try underneath the posts for them.
“I said to the players after the game, that’s all you could have asked from them in terms of bringing the desire and determination to do better than the previous week.
“They did that, so from my end we achieved what we wanted to do which was to turn up and put in a strong 80 minutes.
“I’m proud of the way we reacted after Blackheath, just disappointed that we didn’t come away with the win because we had enough opportunities there to win it.
“We go back and we concentrate on Esher which is a game we need to win now. We’re going to be prepared for it, we’ll go away, and do everything we need to be doing”.