Coventry journeyed to Castle Park to face Doncaster Knights on a surprisingly sunny Saturday afternoon in Yorkshire. This fixture always manages to produce a mouth-watering contest, and this particular episode was no exception as the two sides scored just the 84 points collectively.
The first quarter of the match very much belonged to the hosts, as a Sam Hudson score set the tone for a first paced high-scoring frenzy inside the first two minutes. Sam Olver couldn’t quite add the extras, but the scoreboard was up and at it in favour of the home side. (5-0)
Coventry managed to weather the initial Doncaster storm and create some pressure of their own. Evan Mitchell kicked his side into Donny territory for the first time on the 10-minute mark, and eventually the force and power being exerted from the forward pack took its toll on the home defence as Senitiki Nayalo crashed over. Mitchell converted and Coventry took the lead somewhat against the run of initial play. (5-7)
The lead switched back in favour of the hosts after two successive 3-point boosts from the kicking tee, before a second Doncaster try extended the advantage even further. The home team were beginning to display some serious set piece dominance at scrum time, and the referee was left with little option but to award a penalty try to the Knights on the half hour mark. (18-7)
Coventry kept themselves in the contest with their ability to move the ball well in tight spaces and break an on-rushing Doncaster defence. The backs shifted the ball wide before James Tyas found himself some space to race into and score before a rather distasteful late ‘tackle’ left the second row in a spot of bother on the floor after scoring and left the Donny player with 10 minutes in the sin bin. (18-14)
With 5 minutes left on the clock before half time and the tie very much in the balance, Coventry showed why they are currently sat at 3rd in the league table and stepped things up a gear or two. Two quick fire scores changed the feel of things massively before the two teams headed into the sheds. The first came from some slick hands out wide and a smart finish from Will Talbot-Davies, whilst the second was a stark contrast as the forwards got the driving maul going before Tom Ball peeled off to dot down.
Half time: Doncaster Knights 18-24 Coventry
Doncaster, as you’d expect, were in no mood to wave the white flag as they came out all guns blazing at the start of the second period. A try inside the opening two minutes of the half had the home crowd on its feet as Sam Olver found his man with a pin-point cross field kick as Margetts went over to score. Alex Dolly converted, and the lead was back with the hosts. (25-24)
The game looked to be getting away from this brave Coventry team on the 51-minute mark, as a Doncaster driving maul crashed its way over for a second Sam Hudson try of the afternoon. (32-24) However, James Tyas also fancied a second 5-pointer as he showed some serious pace to get away from the desperate Donny defenders following some clever offloading play from both Adam Peters and Lucas Titherington in midfield. (32-31)
Coventry then managed to retake the lead immediately from the resulting restart as Will Chudley fed Josh Bainbridge after some superb work from the skipper in the middle of the park. Another successful conversion made the score 32-38 with a massive final quarter of the game remaining.
It was Coventry that managed to land the next blow in this back-and-forth battle as Lucas Titherington accompanied an excellent performance with a well taken try as he cut through the defence after being heavily involved in the build-up. (32-45)
Donny continued to display tremendous character in the final minutes as they kept knocking at the door of a stubborn Coventry defence before the replacement hooker barrelled his way over the try line and reduce the Coventry lead to 39-45. A nervy final two minutes or so followed, before eventually Coventry secured possession and Will Chudley fed James Martin to kick the ball off the park and put an end to a quite breath-taking encounter.
Final score: Doncaster Knights 39-45 Coventry
Thank you to all those who travelled to Castle Park, and we look forward to a huge match on Friday night as we host Hartpury. Don’t forget, it’s Student Night at the BPA this Friday so let’s get the stadium and the city rocking!