Championship rugby returned to the Butts Park Arena this Saturday, as Coventry welcomed Doncaster Knights on a clear but chilly early- December afternoon.
Perhaps owing to the weather, both sides took a while to warm-up following kick-off as neither could fashion any clear-cut chances in the opening 15 minutes of play. The game soon kicked into life though, as James Martin raced down the wing following a Coventry scrum on halfway, before offloading well to Josh Bainbridge, who was subsequently adjudged to have just spilt the ball over the Doncaster try line in his attempts to place it. Cov didn’t come away from the visitors’ 22m empty-handed though, as a Pat Pellegrini penalty opened our account for the day. (3-0)
Coventry grew into the game, and we soon had a quick-fire double to celebrate. The first came from outside-centre Will Rigg, who was fed the ball off the back of an attacking lineout and crashed through the tackle of Harry Davey to dive over. The second was the result of some swift thinking from Will Chudley, as the 9 took a tap-and-go penalty quickly before finding his outside-half partner Pellegrini with a short pass, to allow the Australian to dart over in the corner. Both conversions strayed narrowly wide. (13-0)
Doncaster fought back, and narrowly missed out on responding with a try of their own immediately after, only owing to an unfortunate Ben Carlile knock-on on the Cov try line, following an impressive Ben Murphy break. The Coventry defence weathered the Knights’ storm well for several minutes, as we looked to close out the first-half, but could not prevent a Doncaster rolling maul from crashing over on the stroke of halftime. Sam Daly was the man who popped up from the heap claiming the score, and his fly-half Sam Olver duly added the extras to make it a tight affair going into the break. (13-7)
Half time: 13-7
It was Coventry who came out of the blocks the strongest in the second half, as 5 minutes in we had our first score. The backline combined well to spring an impromptu counter attack following a Doncaster knock-on in midfield, with James Martin eventually finding Louis Brown out wide,
who finished acrobatically in the far corner. Pellegrini’s conversion attempt soared through the uprights, to further extend our lead. (20-7)
On the 60 minute mark, we had another score. Will Rigg glided through our visitors’ defensive line on halfway, as Cov advanced into the Doncaster half. After some quick ball, and with the Knights’ defence still scrambling, Chudley picked out Pellegrini who beat the covering defender to dot down.
5 minutes later Cov went over again, this time following an attacking lineout in the Doncaster 22m. After a couple of phases, the ball was shifted quickly to Will Talbot-Davies on the wing, who carried himself as well as his opposite number over the tryline. Pellegrini’s conversion attempts both faded just wide. (30-7)
With less than 10 minutes remaining, the Coventry faithful in the stands enjoyed a manic end to the game, as we recorded 3 tries in short succession.
The first came from Pat Pellegrini, who darted through a hole in the visitors’ defensive line, before rounding the covering fullback with an excellent burst of pace. A couple of minutes later, the Australian found another hole in the Doncaster line with yet another of his trademark steps. Brought down just short of the try line, Pellegrini popped the ball to replacement scrum-half Will Lane, who applied the simple finish. Finally, it was James Martin’s turn to get in on the act, as he tore down the touchline from the Knights’ restart, to fly over in the far corner. (47-7)
Thank you to all the home supporters that came out to the game, as well as to our visitors from Doncaster. We look forward to welcoming you back to the BPA in two weeks’ time, as we face Richmond on the 17th of December.