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Inspired by an outstanding scrummaging effort in which tight head prop Adam Nicol produced a man-of-the-match display, Coventry completed a seasonal double over Doncaster with an accomplished 27-12 success.

In testing conditions on a pitch softened by heavy pre-match rain it was a day when forward control was essential and Cov’s pack – who won six scrum penalties – delivered exactly what was required.

With Will Chudley pulling the strings at their heels, newcomer Tom Hitchcock delivering an impactful display in the centre and Tobi Wilson rock solid at full back this added up to probably the best blue-and-white away day of the season.

Tom Ball and Hitchcock claimed tries with the final plays of each half to which the scrummaging power of Cov’s pack added a 58th minute penalty try while Pat Pellegrini tagged on two penalties and two conversions.

This result perfectly sets the stage for a mouth-watering encounter next Saturday at the Butts Park Arena when table-topping Ealing come calling.

The visitors dominated possession during a first half which was mostly played in Doncaster territory without creating many try-scoring opportunities.

Ryan Hutler narrowly failed to gather Chudley’s diagonal chip with the line beckoning but this was their only half-chance prior to Pellegrini kicking a simple 13th-minute penalty.

Maliq Holden and Jack Metcalf briefly threatened Cov’s grip with a flowing long-distance counter only for Matt Kvesic, Tiki Nayalo and Chudley to send play back to the home 22.

Obi Nkwocha’s chargedown created a moment of panic deep inside the home 22 before Alex Dolly recovered the situation and Cov were penalised on the ground.

World Cup referee Luke Pearce was rapidly losing patience with Doncaster’s front row and after they conceded a fourth scrum penalty he issued home skipper Jack Digby with some stern words.

But it was a typically nimble Pellegrini break and a fine support line from Ball that enabled the flanker to stroll under the home posts for a converted try which sent Cov into the break with a ten-point advantage.

Adam Nicol put in a superb display at Doncaster (pic: John Coles)

Cov’s no.10 soon extended this by three with a simple penalty after some good interplay between Nicol, Nkwocha and skipper Jordon Poole – who was celebrating his 50th appearance for the club – won a penalty in front of the Knights’ posts.

But fittingly the match-clinching moment belonged to Cov’s setpiece which won a pair of close-range scrum penalties before Pearce pivoted away to the posts to award a penalty try and show a yellow card to home prop  Corrie Barrett following a third sequential offence.

It was against the run of play when 14-man Doncaster opened their account as all their players joined a lineout maul and fly half Billy McBryde claimed a try that Joe Bedlow improved.

With 15 minutes remaining the hosts now had a glimmer of hope, and this grew brighter when Hutler was shown a yellow card for preventing Holden taking a quickly-tapped free kick following a mark.

Only two minutes remained when Doncaster replacement Nathan Greenwood won a 70-metre footrace to touch down his team’s second try, but when the conversion hit post and crossbar before bouncing back into play Cov were safe.

Indeed, as Doncaster tried to attack from deep, enough time remained for the excellent Hitchcock to open his blue-and-white account by regathering a loose ball inside the home 22 to race to the posts for a score which Pellegrini improved


Doncaster Knights:

Tries: McBryde (65), Greenwood (78)

Cons: Bedlow (65)


Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Ball (39), Penalty (58), Hitchcock (80)

Cons: Pellegrini (39) (80)

Pens: Pellegrini (13) (44)


Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Hutler, Wand, Hitchcock, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley (Venner 66); Trinder (Chilvers 55), Poole (Biggs 66), Nicol (Nairau 62); Tyas, Nkwocha; Ball (Ryan 62), Kvesic, Nayalo (Bartlett 66).

Replacements: Owen, Mitchell

Doncaster Knights: Westleigh; Simpson, Bedlow (Greenwood 51), Bennett, Metcalf (Bedlow 64); McBryde, Dolly (Fox 62); Davidson (McArthur 78), Doughty (Roberts 46), Barrett (Thiede 40); Murphy, Wilson (Smeaton 69); Brown, Tait (Mintern 64), Digby (Beckett 46).

Referee: Luke Pearce

Attendance: 2038

Half-time: Doncaster Knights 0-10 Coventry Rugby