Coventry 20 Otley 3
Never mind the quality, enjoy the success. And Coventry should definitely savour this win. A side almost buckling under the strain of injuries dug deep and thoroughly deserved every plaudit to come their way.
Starting with an opening burst that brought 13 points in even time, Cov wrestled the advantage and maintained it over a very poor Otley side.
Poor as Otley were, Cov still had to beat the side in front of them. Depleted in the three-quarters, Cov were forced to play usual flanker Darren Clayton at inside centre. Only a bit player this season, Clayton responded with an awesome display, strong in the tackle and always creating an imposing presence, nullifying any of the all-too-rare Otley attacking threats.
Coventry coach Mike Umaga agreed. "We've got enough players who are versatile and Darren has played there previously at centre," he said. "He knew what we were asking of him and he did it to a T. Probably my man of the match was Darren Clayton."
Cov winger Sam Montague made it two tries in two games as he took a pass from full back Myles Dorrian two minutes in, leaving Ben Russell with the easy head-on conversion. Russell then added penalties on ten and 13 minutes as the onslaught continued.
The game then died. Too many missed passes, missed touch kicks and wrong options for both sides. Otley, with the late withdrawal of veteran kicker Simon Binns through injury a savage blow, paid for it as substitute kicker Alastair Monks missed two kickable penalties in first-half stoppage time and a third in the 47th minute.
Monks was replaced by Robin Kitching, while scrum-half Andy Brown replaced Neil Chivers before kicking Otley's sole reply on 62 minutes.
Cov's forwards, with a prominent front five all afternoon, had the final word, however. Penning the Otley pack deep in the changing rooms corner they had three scrum fives, all three resulting in the Yorkshire side's front row popping up. Referee Richard Draper's patience was exhausted as he awarded a penalty try on the last one, Russell's conversion being the icing on the cake.
Umaga was pleased with the full-on effort.
"At the end of the day the forwards are the unit that hasn't taken too many injuries," he said. "We had to wind the clock down and grind out a win, attack them in the scrum and come away with the four points with the win."
Coventry now face an anxious few days awaiting the result of the B sample on full back Apoua Stewart taken following the Rotherham home game last month.
Stewart's A sample showed positive for a banned substance and any possible playing ban on the classy and popular utility back would be a huge loss to the Butts Park side with playing resources already seriously stretched.