On a day where excitement for the upcoming 2022/23 season was seriously starting to heat up, the temperature was doing the same to an almost unbearable extreme at times. The tough conditions may have showed in the game on occasion with the odd unforced error, however, it did not prevent both sides from showcasing 80 minutes of first class entertainment for the Butts park crowd that came out and braved the heat.
There was no denying that the Welsh team started the game the more dominant and threatening side. The opening 10 minutes or so had an element of cagey back and forth, before patient build up from the Merthyr pack, created the opportunity for a neat finish from winger, Hoskins, in the corner to open the visitor’s account for the afternoon. (0-5)
A mere three minutes later and Merthyr had doubled their point tally. Another good set of attacking play from the visitors, who put the ball through the hands for Sam Jones to dot down in front of the slightly quietened XL Motors Stand made the score 0-10.
With one quarter down of the first outing of the season, a much needed water break was taken. Coventry were unfortunately the second fastest team to switch back in to gear after the break, as Merthyr scored their third. After a break in the midfield off a first-phase scrum, Tom Daley ran an excellent line which ended under the sticks. Josh Lewis added the extra two points with his conversion. (0-17)
With 10 minutes to go before the half, the home crowd finally had something to shout about. A great run from James Martin down the right-hand flank, was complimented by a clever support line ran by scrum-half, Fin Ogden, who gathered to score. Patrick Pellegrini accumulated his first points in blue and white with the simple conversion, and Cov were back in the tie. (7-17)
Pellegrini didn’t take long to add to his tally, as we saw his hot-stepping talent for the first time, two minutes before the half-way period. Great pressure from the Coventry pack opened a few cracks in the Merthyr defence, which the Australian fly-half took full advantage of to score a debut try, making the half time score 12-17.
An almost entirely new Coventry team took to the BPA field for the second half, and they got off to a perfect start as another debut score took place. Fullback, Will Talbot Davies glided through the Merthyr defence before finding Lucas Titherington who managed to squeeze the ball down in the corner. Evan Mitchell missed a tricky conversion and for the first time since the 10 minute mark, things were all square. (17-17)
The heat began to take its toll around the 50 minute mark with the odd error creeping in to the game. Rather surprisingly, when you look at the size of the welsh forward’s pack, it took up to this point for the first try of the rolling maul variety. Dan Wall barrelled his way over for the visitors to regain the lead. (17-24)
Coventry responded with some great attacking shape. A penalty in the middle of park, allowed Mitchell to put his pack in close range of the Merthyr line. A delightful move off the back back of the line out created the chance for Fred Betteridge to score from close range, and it would have been a monumental effort to stop him from there. Mitchell’s conversion strayed wide. (22-24)
Merthyr simply wouldn’t lie down, who perhaps produced the score of the day with 10 minutes left on the clock. A lovely series of offloads meant that Sam Jones could score his second of the day and extend his side’s lead. (22-29) However, the crowd erupted with a matter minutes to play, as Will Biggs added his name to the list of debut try scorers for Coventry. A driving maul did the initial damage before a break-away run from the new Hooker ended on the try line. (29-29).
Things look destined to end in a draw, which argubaly would have been a fair result. Methyr had other ideas. An intercept on half way, before Thompson ran the ball home untouched took all the air out of the Coventry tyre, and meant that the visitors took all the spoils after a fiercely competitive encounter. (Full Time: 29-36)
Thank you to everyone that braved the conditions yesterday, as well as our visitors from Wales who were a pleasure to host. We hope to see as many of you as possible next week as historical foes, Birmingham Moseley come to town.