On a day where multiple rugby matches around the country where postponed due to the freezing conditions, this one managed to go ahead thanks to the 3G pitch adjacent to the Alpas Arena.
The home side managed to adapt to the change of venue very quickly, as they posted their first score within three minutes of play. Despite Cov dominating the opening exchanges in terms of possession, a loose ball allowed Hartpury to run it in from 40m before a simple conversion made the score 7-0.
The remainder of the opening exchanges were rather scrappy in misty conditions. The lack of visibility made watching the game, let alone playing, far from a simple task. With nearly 20 minutes played, Cov demonstrated some excellent defence close to the try line. However, a soft penalty was gifted to Hartpury about 15 metres out. The home side kicked to touch and crossed the line from the resulting maul in clinical fashion. The following conversion doubled Hartpury’s lead. (14-0)
Alex Rae’s men shifted into gear and responded immediately. Straight from the kick off Cov managed to regather and ship the ball wide to Will Talbot-Davies, who raced to the corner to dot down. The conversion hit the uprights and the game restarted at 14-5.
Coventry’s best spell of the game came approximately ten minutes before the end of the first period of play. After a strong set piece and retained possession, Tom Dodd crashed his way over the try line before Pellegrini duly converted. This was quickly followed by a trademark Louis Brown break straight from the next kick-off, who fed Senitiki Nayalo, who went over for our third.
Half time: 14-17
Unfortunately, from a Coventry perspective, Hartpury started the second half in a similar fashion to the first. Cov lost a lineout in the 47th minute which gave the Hartpury open-side the opportunity to gather and dive over the try line. (21-17)
Cov were looking good however and managed to score a bonus point try on the 52-minute mark. After winning a line out, the ball was moved wide to James Martin, who ran a smart line which ended under the sticks. Pellegrini converted and the score was tight at 21-24.
The back and forth of try scoring continued as Hartpury responded on the hour mark. Some good possession for the home side ended in a score in the corner. (28-24) The team in red then managed to back up the score with an impressive 15 metre driving maul which extended their lead to 35-24 following a successful conversion.
Ten minutes to play and this young Cov team responded as it so often does; a superb line from Fred Betteridge meant Will Chudley could take advantage of the opening games to dart over. (35-31) Just as Cov were looking to use this momentum and get the try that would give them the lead, Hartpury scored with a break away having shifted the ball wide with good accuracy to dot down in the corner. (42-31)
Despite a late Hartpury penalty kick, Coventry’s spirit shone through as Will Rigg finished a lovely team move to tighten up the score. Unfortunately, it was in losing cause as we came away from the Alpas Arena (or close enough) with a 45-36 defeat.
Thank you to everyone that braved the cold and travelled to Hartpury to show your support. This support will be very much required next Saturday as we aim to PACK OUT THE BPA when we face Richmond in what is our last home game of the calendar year.