National One: Coventry 32 Sedgley Park 25
Coventry completed a hard-earned win over their Lancashire visitors, a result which brought them their third win in four matches during November and a haul of 15 league points, which has lifted them to eighth in the division.
It was a victory which gave them their first season’s league double, but which ultimately had be fought for a lot harder than earlier had looked likely.
Twelve points up inside four minutes and 19-3 to the good after 15 minutes, Coventry went off like a bullet, with second-from-bottom Park left chasing shadows.
But for some reason and not for the first time this season, the Blue-and-Whites took their foot off the accelerator, with a sequence of events allowing Sedgley back into the game.
It certainly made for excitement and entertainment, the Northerners deserving credit for reducing the deficit so effectively with limited chances after earlier looking as if they might be blown away.
A very inconsistent refereeing performance did not help matters, with the Butts Park Arena crowd left constantly bemused by decisions. Coventry, defending sternly, will have been rather relieved to have heard the final whistle at the end of six minutes of injury time, the length of which was also a mystery to pretty well everyone else on the ground other than the match officials.
The opening exchanges saw Cov flanker John O’Connor the real beneficiary, claiming the quickest hat-trick of tries at the ground, all completed within the first quarter.
After just two minutes, excellent handling from Myles Dorrian and Donovan Sanders allowed O’Connor to fly over the line for his maiden try for the club, before repeating the act within two minutes after Tom Johnson and Kurt Johnson combined with Sanders to set him free.
Ben Russell converted the first, before adding the extra points to the third O’Connor effort after more sure handling.
Sedgley Park were clutching for lifelines at this point, fly-half Phil Jones giving them one just prior to the third Coventry try with an easy penalty.
From 19-3, however, the home side somehow contrived to give their visitors a lift, the players failing to gather a rolling ball, allowing winger Chris Hall a free run-in for what transpired to be Park’s only try, Jones converting.
The Park fly-half went on to add two further penalties before half-time, the second after Cov skipper Will Johnson was yellow-carded for not releasing the ball, leaving the sides just three points apart at the break.
It soon became all square when Jones landed his fourth penalty early after the resumption, Russell and Jones both then putting over further kicks to leave the teams locked at 22-22.
After 63 minutes, though, Coventry at last eased home nerves, prop Niall Treston being driven over and leaving Russell a simple conversion.
Yet again, Jones and Russell were to exchange penalties and Park pressed hard at the end, but the Midlanders were in no mood to concede further scores.
COVENTRY: Russell, K Johnson, Sanders (Binham, 76), Dixon, Takarangi, Dorrian, Walls (James, 62), Treston, Friswell (Protherough, 50), Brits, Tonkin, Nimmo (Rheeders, 58), T Johnson, O’Connor, W Johnson (capt).
SEDGLEY PARK: DeJager, Hall, Briers, Criag, Voortman, Jones, Albinson (Wilkinson, 70), Evans, Roddam (Keys, 70), Du Plessis, Fourie, Norris, Newton (Jope, 57), Ponton (capt, Livesey 38– h/t), Skurr.
Referee: D Richards (RFU).