Coventry 26 London Welsh 18
The difference between Coventry and London Welsh was underlined by a single fact yesterday. As the home side created and squandered try-scoring opportunities, their guests did likewise but in the less valuable currency of penalty goals.
In the first half alone Coventry produced at least four clear-cut opportunities to cross the Exiles' line but accepted only one of them. By comparison the visitors were awarded as many chances to put the ball between their hosts' posts but also managed it only once.
Put simply, Welsh were operating with the smallest denomination and that left them nowhere to go once Lee Cholewa's boot so calamitously misfired. That's why they are bottom of National One this morning.
Meanwhile, Coventry's fourth consecutive win was delivered via another compelling performance by their pack, admirably led by second-rowers Ben Gulliver and Paul Clapham.
If the forwards laid the foundations their supremacy was turned into something more tangible by an immaculate kicking display by wing James Moore who was successful with all six of his attempts. Therein lay a big difference.
Cholewa's misdemeanours accounted for 11 points. Add them on to the scoreline and it has a very different appearance but also one that would have been unfair on Coventry because it was they who showed the loftier ambition.
Their backs fizzled rather than exploded but with Richard Davies, a fly-half cum full-back operating at inside centre, and No 8 Ross Beattie cracking holes in the opposition defence they looked the more complete side.
In scrum- half Craig McGrath they seem to have found a half-back who at least makes the absence of Shaun Perry bearable. The New Zealander invariably chose the right option and usually did so with sufficient purpose to put his team on the front foot. That they failed to capitalise was not his fault.
Nevertheless they could, nay should, have been 9-0 down after 15 minutes as Kisi Pulu haemorrhaged infringements.
Cholewa's first miss, from his second attempt, was from the sort of position conversions are taken when a try has been scored under the posts. There won't be any worse this season.
After 20 minutes Coventry finally got some possession and, but for a last ditch tackle on Nik Witkowski, they would have made it pay as McGrath and Davies released the Canadian down the right flank.
Their second attack took them over. Jon Higgins shortened his pass beautifully to Henno Venter and the blindside romped 40 metres straight up the middle before being dragged down.
McGrath's clearance from the resulting ruck looked to have been spoiled but hooker Richard Protherough gathered a bobbling ball superbly and drove over from close range. Moore chipped over the conversion and a 36thminute penalty for 10-3 at half time. Needless to say the period expired with Cholewa bodging a shot from the home ten-metre line.
A slow start to the second period saw Niall Treston sinbinned for testing the goodwill of Argentine referee Richard Ponce Du Leon once too often.
During the tighthead's absence the Old Deer Park side scored twice. First opposite number Colm Hannon crossed against his former team-mates from a driven line-out.
Then No 8 Paul Cox burst through Venter's tackle to go over from a five-metre scrum after Moore's only poor kick of the match saw him shank across his own dead ball line. Remarkably, Cholewa's conversion from right on the touchline sailed between the posts with no fuss at all.
Coventry were behind 15-10 with half an hour to go. Moore added a second penalty before racing round his marker on halfway for the game's cleanest break.
As Gulliver and Kurt Johnson based away Welsh stepped offside and Moore put his team into the lead. His fourth penalty came 12 minutes from the end but was cancelled out by Cholewa shortly afterwards.
Just when it looked like Coventry would once more be victorious by a single point they decimated the Exiles' scrum and Beattie and Gulliver thrust towards the line. After a series of abortive efforts Johnson finally crashed through. Moore's conversion made the lead eight.
A lack of confidence in their fly-half's kicking meant Welsh spurned the chance of a bonus point from 45 metres, instead opting for a kick to touch. A messed up line-out showed it wasn't just the accuracy of their placekicking that condemned them to defeat.