London Scottish were on the wrong end of one of Coventry’s best performances of the season, as they defeated the Exiles 62-12 at the Butts Park Arena.
Despite the scoreline, the Exiles started the game strongly, mixing up the attack well and making it over the gainline. Harry Sheppard combined well with Paul Lasike for a cheeky chip through, but sadly the American International couldn’t find the final offload to convert the break into a score.
Coventry opened the scoring on the 10th minute, as Toby Fenner converted a simple ruck penalty on the day of his 100th apperance for the hosts.
The Exiles were then put under constant pressure for the next 10 minutes, but did well to keep Coventry out as their defensive line held firm.
On the 23rd minute however, David Halaifonua committed one penalty too many and he was sent to the bin. The hosts made this man advantage tell instantly, with Senitiki Nayalo bundling over from close range and then Josh Barton sniped around the fringes of the ruck and scored from almost 60m out.
The Exiles did then manage to regroup and had multiple phases inside the Coventry 22, but failed to convert this into points.
With half time approaching, Adam Peters managed to cross twice. The first was from a pick and go after another Josh Barton break. The second saw the ball come loose at the ruck and despite it going forward, the referee waved play on and Peters scored in the corner.
Half time score: Coventry 29-0 London Scottish
With an uphill battle facing them in the second half, the Exiles came out of the blocks well. An early scrum penalty put Scottish in a good position and another strong attack appeared to be building. However, one loose pass was all Coventry needed, as they hacked the ball through and Rob Stevenson was able to score in the corner.
Immediately from the restart Scottish struck back. With his first touch of the game, replacement Brian Tuilagi broke through the line. He made around 50m before drawing the final man and converting the 2-on-1 to put Dan Nutton over under the sticks. Harry Sheppard added the extras.
Five minutes later, the Exiles looked like they might get a second. A scrum penalty and then back to back penalties at the maul could have seen the hosts go down to 14 men for 10 minutes. The ref instead put them on a final warning, but they were able to turn the ball over and clear.
With 20 minutes to go, Coventry were awarded a penalty for blocking which many of the Scottish supporters felt was a harsh decision. The kick to the corner was a good one, and they scored from the resulting maul.
Scottish then launched yet another strong attack, but with their tails up Coventry were able to turn defence into attack incredibly quickly. Their fast moving play almost was an end to end score, had it not been for Dan Nutton’s near intercept. As the scrum half failed to hold the ball, he was judged to have deliberately knocked the ball on and faced 10 minutes in the bin.
With the man advantage, Coventry scored again before Scottish then answered back. A free kick at the scrum just outside the 22 was taken quickly. The forwards slowly inched forward, doing well to safely secure the ball each time. After tying in all the defence, Leo Fielding, who was filling in at flyhalf, spotted a mismatch on the blindside and was able to execute a superb miss pass to put Sam Baker in in the corner.
With the fly time whistle approaching, Coventry crossed twice more to make the full-time score 62-12 to the hosts.
Full credit has to go to Coventry for their strong performance, but it doesn’t make the result any easier to take. Despite the scoreline, the London Scottish fans remained vocal to the last whistle and we always appreciate their support.
Our next game is on Saturday as we face Ealing Trailfinders at the Athletic Ground. You can buy tickets here.