After waiting all season for an away win, Coventry Rugby clinched their second on-the-road success in eight days thanks to an impressive 23-36 bonus point success at fourth-placed Jersey.
In the process the visitors completed their first seasonal double and also clinched a highly creditable eighth-place finish in their first campaign in the Greene King IPA Championship in a decade.
Playing with the benefit of a stiff wind, the Blue-and-Whites recovered from the concession of an early driving lineout try to bank 22 points in as many first-half minutes through tries from David Halaifonua, Scott Tolmie and Andy Bulumakau.
When the Reds struck back with tries either side of the interval plus a prodigious Brett Herron penalty they were well placed going into the final quarter.
However, Cov repeated the impressive regrouping exercise which brought them all five points at Doncaster in similar circumstances in round 21 to send Will Maisey and Heath Stevens over for match-clinching fourth-quarter tries.
And a calm display of game management then ensured that the Blue-and-Whites departed for their close-season in good heart.
Home hooker Nick Selway applied the finishing touch to a lineout drive to open the Reds’ account.
But thereafter the visitors used the support of the elements to good effect to race into a 22-5 lead at the half-hour mark.
Maisey’s well-struck penalty got the visitors underway and last weekend’s man-of-the-match then upgraded a fine try created by Andy Bulumakau and Ben Nutley and finished by Tongan international full back David Halaifonua.
Cov hooker Scott Tolmie soon claimed their second touchdown – and his eighth of a prolific season – when he applied the finishing touch from close range.
And after Maisey converted, the excellent Bulumakau stole possession from Leroy Van Dam direct from the restart and outpaced the cover from inside his own half to grab the visitors’ third score.
Jersey’s juggernaut pack shunted Selway over for their second try shortly before the break, which Herron converted, and the home full back followed up by smashing over a wind-assisted 53-metre penalty immediately after the restart.
When flanker Kyle Hatherell claimed a third home try, this meant Jersey had recorded 15 unanswered points to narrow their deficit to just two points with 25 minutes left.
However, as at Castle Park last weekend, Cov regrouped to outstanding effect and bounced back through Maisey who exploited Will Owen’s break to go under the posts for a try which he also converted.
Herron’s second penalty kept the hosts in the hunt, but Cov’s pack then marched a maul fully 25 metres to create the space for centre Heath Stevens to grab try number five.
And with nerves less frayed than they had been a week earlier, Cov proceeded to see out the closing nine minutes in relative comfort to finish their season in a four-club mid-table group spanned by eight points.
Earlier in the day Coventry won an entertaining second team encounter by 17-33.
The Blue-and-Whites built a 14-7 interval advantage on the back of some strong scrummaging which brought tries for under 18 Cameron Sharpe and James Neal plus two Dan Lewis penalties.
Sam McNulty was then shown a yellow card during which time the hosts got back on level terms.
However, Lewis soon upgraded Will Flinn’s score, and after Jersey kicked three more points from the tee Cov closed out the win through Lewis’s conversion of Sharpe’s second try and a Kwaku Asiedu touchdown.
Scorers & Times:
Tries: Selway (11) (39), Hatherell (56)
Conversion: Herron (39)
Penalties: Herron (41) (65)
Tries: Halaifonua (17), Tolmie (30), Bulumakau (32), Maisey (61), Stevens (71)
Conversions: Maisey (17) (30) (61) (71)
Penalty: Maisey (14)
JERSEY REDS: Herron; Stapley (Howley 78), Ma’afu, Eastwell, Van Dam; Penberthy, Homer; Godfrey (Morley 78), Selway (Macfarlane 72), Atalifo (Alexis 62), Bartle (Hallam-Eames 72), Beckett, Upfield (Joyce 72), Hatherell, Venter (Newey 74)
COVENTRY: Halaifonua; Bulumakau (Kessell 78), Stevens, Owen, Trimble (Knox 59); Maisey, White; Gibbons (Ellis 51), Dawidiuk (Tolmie 23), Brighouse (Boulton 40), Russell (Oram 51), Woolford (Voss 40), Nutley, Ram, Adams
REFEREE: Matt Turvey
Star Man: Will Maisey
Half Time: Jersey Reds 12-22 Coventry Rugby