by John Butler
IN a second half of power and total domination, Coventry moved away to another victory on their travels with the winning margin the biggest any Cov squad has achieved in league matches at The Rock.
Ultimately, it proved another afternoon when five more league points were tucked away with none achieved by the hosts. With Darlington Mowden Park failing to pick up more than four at home, it also saw the margin at the top of National League One increase to 12 points.
Yet, up to half-time Cov had been forced to work really hard against a Rosslyn Park side clearly fired up for their task.
The opening 20 minutes certainly saw the Londoners have the better of affairs. During that time, with Cov experiencing difficulties in the set scrums and the referee’s interpretation of affairs, Park won four penalties in that area. Once matters settled down, however, it became a different story although Park were mighty close to taking the lead again right on half-time with Cov, at that point, a player short.
With Cov kicking off, Park secured all the early possession which saw what was to be their only try of the game scored in just 1 minute 15 seconds.
From deep in home territory, scrum-half Jack Gash broke a tackle before making a lot of ground to link up with winger Ben Marfo, who in turn fed No.8 Hugo Ellis who then powered over in the right corner. Fly-half Harry Leonard converted from touch to leave the hosts seven points to the good.
Cov’s response was immediate, and when the hard-working Jack Preece turned over possession a long pass from Will Maisey set Tom Emery free on the left to power over. Maisey added the extras with a brilliant conversion to square matters at 7-all after five minutes.
Park, however, were giving as good as they got and with the Cov scrum under pressure, Leonard landed a 22-metre penalty after 11 minutes.
The home fly-half and captain was to repeat the dose ten minutes later from a similar distance as referee Calum Howard again penalised the Coventry scrum.
An excellent 30-metre rolling maul from the Cov pack promised better to come, Maisey kicking into the home 22 before possession was lost. Cov were not to be denied and their second try came after 25 minutes following a piece of individual brilliance from Rob Knox. From what appeared a fairly harmless situation 25 metres out, Cov’s right wing powered his way through home ranks for a lovely try, converted by Maisey to put the Butts Park side 14-13 in front.
More Cov pressure followed with a catch and drive held before an astute Luke Narraway grubber kick set up another position close in, Park however clearing their lines.
Maisey then fluffed a penalty attempt before deep into the half Park came back to lay siege to the Cov line. Narraway was yellow carded on 39 minutes for not releasing with the home side having two scrums just metres out from the visiting goal line. Determined defence somehow kept them out in what was to prove a defining moment in the match with Cov holding on to their one-point lead at the break.
If the first half had seen both sides enjoy their moments, the second period was to prove one of total Cov domination which saw them run in five tries with Park not once getting near to adding to their tally.
With the Cov scrum now secure and Narraway back on the field, a quite superb move at real pace brought the third try on 48 minutes. Possession was moved sharply to the left where hooker Scott Tolmie showed a blinding turn of speed to power over for his 11th try of the season, Maisey’s conversion failing from out wide.
Cov, 19-13 to the good, then produced two more tries within the next five minutes to quash any hopes Rosslyn Park might have held of remaining in contention.
The 56th minute saw Cov win a line-out in home territory before a long Maisey pass gave Anthony Matoto the space to power through without a hand laid on him, Maisey converting.
Five minutes later, with all the positions and possession now going Cov’s way, from another Maisey kick into the home 22 the forwards won the line-out and replacement Olly Povoas was driven over with Maisey’s conversion leaving Cov out of sight at 33-13.
At this point, Knox, who had been involved in a lot of the positive action, limped off with a knock to his ankle, with Park now reduced to attempts to run scraps of possession from inside their own half.
Cov were far from finished. two more unconverted tries coming in the last seven minutes.
First, from another scrum penalty, Brett Daynes powered over, and three minutes later scrum-half Tom Kessell produced a wonderful individual run through a now tired home defence for the seventh try. With Maisey replaced, Tony Fenner was unable to convert either.
There was just enough time left for Sam Tuitupou to pick up a yellow card in injury-time for a perceived stiff-arm tackle which, with the home player appearing to bounce off him, seemed somewhat harsh.
The second-half performance had been one of total Coventry domination as the squad took another successful step through the tough sequence of matches leading up to Christmas.