Coventry ventured to the capital and back to the Richmond Athletic Ground with a slight sense of uncertainty. With qualification through to the next stage of the Championship Cup requiring both a Coventry bonus point win and Bedford Blues doing a job against Doncaster Knights the following day, the Cov side had to focus on controlling what they could.
The home side started the stronger of the two teams, as some early pressure led to the first score of the game in the shape of three points off the tee from London Scottish fly half, Chamberlain. Coventry responded immediately from the restart as the team built through the attacking phases before a delightful piece of skill unlocked the Scottish defence. Evan Mitchell chipped over the top of the on-rushing defenders for James Martin to gather and dot down. Mitchell couldn’t quite match the accuracy of his chip when converting the score. (3-5)
Coventry followed their opening try with a second shortly after. After gaining possession in midfield as the Exiles were judged to have infringed at the breakdown, Cov secured the following lineout before Will Lane found Senitiki Nayalo who ran it in from 5 metres unopposed. A superb conversion from Mitchell extended the early lead to 3-12.
The travelling supporters had plenty to shout about in the opening exchanges as Cov made it two in as many minutes. London Scottish coughed up the ball in midfield before some quick hands and a smart offload found Lucas Titherington in space to cross for the team’s third of the evening inside just 12 minutes. (3-19)
The Exiles began to grow into the contest, as more passes began to stick for the home side. With a quarter of the game gone, Scottish gathered a lineout before setting a tight and compact maul. After two further phases, Scottish crossed the whitewash and added the conversion to tighten up the affair. (10-19)
The two sides then reached a period of stalemate as neither attack manged to break down the other’s defence. This was until the 35-minute mark when James Martin travelled off his wing to collect the ball 5 metres from the Scottish try line and crash his way over. Again, Mitchell converted as Cov posted a handsome 10-26 on the scoreboard with just minutes before the first half’s end.
The Exiles are not a side to disappear from a scrap, as the home team jumped on a loose ball in open play to coast to the try line. With 38 minutes played the score was 17-26, and that looked set to be the case as the teams headed into the sheds. Coventry were determined to have the last laugh of the 40 however, as the Sky Blue’s journeyed from one end of the Richmond Athletic Ground turf to the other before centre, Will Wand, raced to the line. Mitchell converted on the stroke of half time and everyone, including those supporters in attendance, manged to take a welcomed breather.
Half time: 17-33
With a clear message to keep the metaphorical foot on the gas, Cov made the perfect start to the second half. With less than a minute played, Cov secured their own lineout ball before some smart interplay between Adam Peters and Louis James allowed the winger to sprint clear of the defence to score. (17-40)
The vast majority of the second period belonged to the home side, as Coventry were quite possibly guilty of thinking the game was already won. Two tries in quick succession meant the contest was well and truly still alive. The first came from number 8, Taulani, before the Scottish backs linked up well to race home from 30 yards. (31-40)
Thankfully, from a Coventry point of view, there were no more invasions of the Cov dead ball area as the away side saw out the fixture, but not before one final hoorah. In virtually the final play of the game, Joe Snow found Ollie Betteridge who managed to pop the ball to Lucas Titherington who exploded through a small gap in the defence to cross for his second of the evening.
Final score: 31-47
Thank you to all of the travelling supporters that made the journey to the RAG. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at Butts Park Arena this coming Friday 24thFeb, as we take on the UK Armed Forces in the first of our ‘Gift to the Community’ Free Admission fixtures.