Coventry 33 Pertemps Bees 33
This was definitely a case of a game of two halves - and the type of game that will put grey hairs on any coach's head.
For the neutral spectator this game would have pleased. Eight tries, effort and fight from both sides, a game worthy of a bigger crowd than the 1241 who witnessed it.
Supporters of either side will have differing views of
their side's performance. For Bees, an absolutely abject first 40 minutes horror-show will have been tempered by a five-try response in the second period.
Broken defence, missed tackles, forward passes and handling errors were the root cause of Cov rattling up a 17-nil interval lead, courtesy of a Donovan Sanders brace of tries. After 32 minutes Sanders emerged with the ball after being driven over by his forwards. His second try, on 39 minutes, followed a horrible knock-on by No 8 Will Matthews on his touchline from a Jon Higgins pass.
Matthews' angry kicking of the ball into the stand summed up his, and his side's, frustration. Ben Russell's two conversions and his 13th minute penalty were scant reward for Cov's opportunism and their threequarters' excellent penetration of Bees imitation of defensive play.
Pertemps coach Steve Williams was unimpressed. He said: "It was very disappointing from our point of view, I thought we played very, very poorly. We battled hard in the second half, we just weren't there with our skills, just in general, you know. We just battled ourselves back into the game really."
And how they battled back. Three tries in seven minutes, all converted by Jon Higgins, between the 46th and 53rd minutes turned it all around. Cov helped Bees in their cause with individual errors proving costly. Home hooker
Stuart Friswell's yellow card on 42 minutes for pulling down Pertemps rolling maul allowed Bees to build up a much-needed head of steam.
A stunned home crowd saw former player Simon Martin cross on 46 minutes. Cov fly half Myles Dorrian's loose kick ahead - so loose it was almost played in centre Tristan Davies hands - on 48, allowed Davies to race over unopposed from 40 metres.
He was followed by flanker Akapusi Qera, who benefited from Dave Campton's tap back, to almost saunter over the line.
The mistakes dismayed Cov head coach Murray Henderson.
"To give the opposition 33 points in the second half is a bit difficult to take really," he said. "We just handed those soft tries to allow them to get their game back on track and giving them those tries did exactly that."
This Coventry side do not give up easily though. Cov's forwards surged again and a try was created for centre
Kieran Geraghty on 56 minutes, Russell adding the extra's and taking his penalty tally to four in the game as Bees coughed up offsides on 63 and 68 minutes. Bees scored a fourth try seeing lock and captain Mark Gabey submerged under his fellow forwards on 64 minutes.
Cov still led 33-26 going into the last five minutes but Bees, through their large forwards, were always in contention and Qera's second try, Higgins excellent conversion levelling up matters.
So how did Williams turn it around at half-time?
"We were just honest with each other. We weren't at the races, but you just can't turn form on or off really. I thought we warmed up poorly before the match, we weren't quite there and it showed in the performance."
Next weeks blank Saturday offers Henderson and his players a chance to regroup.
"We've just got to take it on the chin. The draw wasn't really what we wanted, [but] we've got to move on.
"We've got a bit of a break now and that will give a chance to heal up those bodies and we'll come back for the Nottingham game and finish the season on a high."
COVENTRY: Russell (c), Toft, Geraghty (Binham, 73), Sanders, Dixon, Dorrian, Walls (James, 69), Rimmer, Friswell (WynDavies, 79), Brits (Treston, 52), Campton (Tonkin, 66), Nimmo, Venter, Clayton (O' Connor, 16, Wyn-Davies, 42-52) Johnson. PERTEMPS BEES: Nutthall, Spee, Davies , Martin (Billig 22-34, Billig, 60) Palm, Higgins, Petty, Long (Dunning, 69), Miles, Court, Gabey (c ) Davidson, Tuohy (Halavatau, 40), Qera, Mathews (Larson, 52)
Referee: Mr Mark Wilson (RFU) ..SUPL: