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Match Reports

Coventry 19 Jersey Reds 19

14/01/2023

Photo by Simon Hall

The Reds climbed off the canvas to hit back hard against their hosts and claim a share of the spoils in the big ‘third v second’ Championship clash.

Seemingly down-and-out with a deficit of 14 points inside the last five minutes, the Jersey ‘never-say-die’ attitude came to the fore, with two tries from the scrum to level the scores and even raise the prospect of an extraordinary victory.

In the first game of 2023 for both sides, defence was dominant during the first half, meaning there were few clear-cut opportunities to score points. Each side showed flaws, with the Reds’ falling foul of the referee and conceding an estimated 10 penalties before the break, while Coventry committed regular handling errors.

Two-thirds of the visiting front row was changed in the latter stages of the half: TJ Harris trudging off with a hand injury, replaced by Eoghan Clarke, and Stevie Longwell introduced in place of Adam Nicol in a tactical switch.

In the end there was only one score before half-time, but it was a corker. Russell Bennett’s slick flat path enabled Alex McHenry to release Tomi Lewis up the left flank. Cramped for space, the winger toe-ended the ball inside for Jordan Holgate to seize it before being tackled just 10 metres from the line. After Hallam Chapman’s powerful run, quick ball was fed right to Longwell, who shipped the ball to Ben Woollett, who had plenty to do but powered over.

The visitors’ defensive steel was tested during the closing stages of the half and immediately after the resumption. Initially the Red wall held, though at the cost of further penalties, and eventually flanker Tom Dodd went over and after a missed conversion the scores were level.

There were chances for the Reds to get back into the lead, but two penalty chances came to nothing, first as Russell Bennett’s touch-finder went the wrong side of the corner flag, and then a lineout was stolen by the hosts.

Cheered at having cleared their lines, Cov worked their way upfield and former Worcester scrum-half Will Chudley fed ex-Jersey flanker Josh Bainbridge for a short canter to the line, Pat Pellegrini adding the extras for 12-5 just before the hour.

The Blue-and-Whites were in the ascendancy, and eventually the pressure told, first with a yellow card for Stevie Longwell as the Reds conceded one penalty too many, and then with skipper Jordon Poole scoring from a lineout as the ball was fed out to Chudley and then switched inside to the hooker, who skipped past James Mitchell to the line.

Mitchell did have a positive impact with two fleet-footed breaks in the closing stages that enabled the visitors to get upfield and push for points. The hosts made two front row changes with five minutes to play, and soon afterwards their scrum was forced backwards and Tim Grey touched down.

With their tails up, and back to full strength, the Jersey XV pressed forward and were able to repeat the dose, this time via a penalty try as the home scrum splintered.

There was still time for both sides to win the game, and gain a try bonus point to boot, but after some to-and-fro exchanges their efforts broke down and the final whistle blew with honours still even.

COVENTRY: Louis Brown; Will Talbot-Davies, Will Wand, Will Rigg, James Martin (Louis James 65); Pat Pellegrini, Will Chudley; Toby Trinder (Danny Southworth 75), Jordon Poole (capt) (Suva Ma’asi 75), Harry Seward (Ollie Andrews 69), James Tyas, Adam Peters, Tom Dodd (Tom Ball 69), Josh Bainbridge, Senitiki Nayalo (Fred Betteridge 69). Unused: Will Lane, Evan Mitchell

JERSEY REDS: Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett (Will Brown 72), Alex McHenry (Charlie Powell 72), Jordan Holgate, Tomi Lewis; Russell Bennett, James Elliott (James Mitchell 51); Sam Grahamslaw (Greg McGrath 51), TJ Harris (Eoghan Clarke 29), Adam Nicol (Steve Longwell 35, YC 68), Sean O’Connor (James Scott 66), Macauley Cook, James Dun, Lewis Wynne (capt), Hallam Chapman (Tim Grey 58).

REFEREE: Nick Wood. Assistants: James Clarke, Simon Adams
Half Time: 0-5
Attendance: 3,183

Scorers
Coventry
Tries: Dodd 50, Bainbridge 59, Poole 71
Conversions: Pellegrini 59, 71

Jersey Reds
Tries: Woollett 37, Grey 76, Penalty try 78
Conversion: Bennett 78

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4 Feb 2023

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THE WATERING HOLE

Why not come and chillout in the ‘Watering Hole’ before the game? A full-bar and food is available and you can enjoy some live music after the game.