Coventry 26 Sedgley Park 27
Sedgley Park disproved the adage that lightning doesn't strike twice as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Coventry.
Last season they won with a last-gasp penalty to become the first away side to win a league game at the Butts Park Arena. On Saturday they repeated the smash and grab tactic with an injurytime converted try by Jon Skurr, the flanker finishing off a close-range penalty lineout as he was pushed over by most of the visiting team to claim the try making it 26-25 to Coventry.
Replacement kicker, fullback Arnot De Jager, having taken over from injured flyhalf Phil Jones, just squeezed his attempt past the upright for the winning extra points.
There followed just enough time for a kick-off and the final whistle to leave Coventry's pre-season optimism taking a hefty dent and the players and home supporters stunned and subdued.
This defeat should never have happened.
Coventry had led for most of the match and, apart from Dave McCormack's try, converted by De Jager on 56 minutes, rarely trailed the visitors.
Full-back Craig Richards' try for the hosts on 71 minutes, converted by James Moore, seemed to have put Coventry back on track until Skurr's late intervention.
However, errors kept Coventry on the back foot and under pressure. Kicks failed to find touch, allowing the ball to come straight back, and the added pressure lead to too many penalties amid the anxiety.
Sedgley Park's use of second-half replacements, foraging workhorses Skurr and Tim Fourie, allowed the visitors to gain possession and become more incisive.
Coventry coach Mike Umaga summed up the players' feelings, saying: "The lads are pretty dejected because they knew what we had to do and they knew what they threw away.
"Our focus was pretty simple: we had to go out there and get a win. The win was the over-riding factor. We did the hard work to get back in front and then pretty much let it slip away by not executing a very simple gameplan and applying pressure in the right places.
"It was so blindingly obvious what we had to do and we now have to move on."
A mixture of good and bad for Coventry, really.
Winger James Moore (four penalties and two conversions) allied to some speedy wing play looks an excellent recruit. The pack also looked an excellent unit in the first half but too many changes in the second period possibly disrupted play. Dave Campton and Tom Johnson, in the back row, showed promise.
On the debit side a shoulder injury to No 8 Dan Farani, Coventry's opening tryscorer, could be a long-term injury but, in Hendry Rheeders, Coventry could possibly have a more effective player at No 8.
The Rheeders on show was a little low-key and it remains to be seen whether his new captain's role takes the edge off last season's top form.