Coventry’s opening match in the 2022/23 Championship Cup ended in defeat at the hands of Doncaster Knights following a frustrating 80 minutes.
The first 40 minutes was arguably not one for the neutral, as neither side managed to etch a single point on the scoreboard. Penalties and lack of discipline met with nervous handling errors to create an underwhelming first period, as both teams went into the sheds looking to turn things around.
Following the break, it was Alex Rae’s men that came out of the half-time blocks first. Just before the 45-minute mark, the Cov pack converted a lineout just 5 metres from the Doncaster try line to 5 points, as Rhys Thomas burrowed his way over on his return to the side – before Evan Mitchell added the extras from the tee. (0-7)
Doncaster are always a tough team to beat, especially at Castle Park, and responded as expected shortly after the game’s opening score. The Knights demonstrated the damage that they too can inflict with the driving maul as the pack drove over from 5 metres before Donny debutant, Theo Vukasinovic, stood to claim the try.
The following 10 minutes or so were played with neither side wanting to make a mistake that could be costly. However, Doncaster eventually took the risk that delivered high reward, as Sale Sharks loanee Joe Bedlow and Jared Cardew linked up nicely before Sam Daly needed no second invitation to finish and give the home side the lead.
With 10 minutes remaining, and Coventry searching for a score to bring the score level, Donny managed a third try that made a positive score-line unlikely (from a Coventry point of view). The Knights’ firepower began to show as yet another diving maul resulted in another ‘5 pointer’. John Kelly caught the lineout before George Roberts dotted down, much to the delight of the Castle Park faithful.
Five minutes later, the home side secured their bonus point on a night that proved to be one to forget for Coventry. The Knights took the approach of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ as they converted yet another lineout to a driving maul try. Daly crossed the whitewash for his second of the game, which closed the lid on any late dramatic comeback hopes.
Coventry will undoubtedly be disappointed that the Cup campaign didn’t kickstart with a win, following great form in the league. However, this squad is not one to stay down in the dumps and will be looking for a big response next Friday night as we take to the road for a third consecutive weekend to face familiar foes, Bedford Blues at Goldington Road.
Thank you to all the travelling supporters that made the trip to Castle Park, and we look forward to welcoming you back to Butts Park Arena on Saturday 19th November when we face London Scottish in the Cup.