The Reds produced a rampant display to round off their 2021/22 league campaign, scoring 10 tries in overwhelming their Coventry hosts.
The 104-point aggregate at the Butts Park Arena was a record for the Reds in their time in the Championship, coming almost exactly a decade after a win at the same ground clinched the National 1 title and promotion to the second tier.
Jordan Holgate started the ball rolling when he forced his way over for a try by the posts within four minutes, but the centre was then forced off with an injury and replaced by Scott Van Breda. The home side then took the lead with two scores of their own: hooker Suva Ma’asi from a maul and wing Tom Stanton in the corner.
Although Eoghan Clarke and his forward colleagues then delivered a mauled try for the Reds, Cov responded in kind through Ma’asi to regain the lead.
Three tries in the last 10 minutes of the half saw the Reds build a decent lead. Harry Simmons claimed the first after a clever lobbed kick by James Mitchell bounced nicely for him near the posts, then Clarke added another mauled effort. Simmons’ second followed a turnover by replacement Wes White and a kick through by Van Breda which his team-mate reached first and dotted down.
Looking to reinforce their lead soon after the resumption, the visitors took advantage of errors by their opponents to claim a sixth try through Dan Barnes, only for the Blue-and-Whites to claim their bonus-point try scored by lock James Tyas.
Sam Leeming’s first try for the Reds was a beauty as he beat three players in a jinking run to the line, and then another replacement got in on the act as TJ Harris forced his way over in the corner to mark his return from a four-month injury lay-off.
The pace of scoring didn’t ease off, with Will Owen claiming another try for the hosts and then Simmons completing his hat-trick following a flowing move down the three-quarters which featured a galloping run by Alex Humfrey and a scoring pass from Dan Barnes that enabled Simmons to finish in the corner.
James Martin’s interception gave some cheer to the home supporters, but the Reds had the final word as James Mitchell crossed in the last play. Tom Pittman added two points from the tee after Leeming had earlier registered seven conversions from eight attempts.
The match aggregate was well beyond the previous club record in the Championship: 85 points a Rotherham in September 2012, when the Yorkshire side won 54-31, and the same tally at Ampthill in November 2019, when the Reds won 38-47.
Ten tries was also a record Championship haul, surpassing eight scored on four previous occasions, including the previous game against Nottingham. And the total points of 66 was another record, surpassing the 56 scored against Yorkshire Carnegie in January 2020 and 52 on two occasions in 2018, away at London Scottish and Hartpury.
The result made sure that the Reds will finish fourth in the final standings, with 69 points in 20 games, surpassing the previous best tally of 65 points in 22 games in 2017/18.
The Reds will take on Ayrshire Bulls in a friendly this Saturday (k-o 3pm) before starting their Championship Cup campaign with a home fixture against London Scottish on Saturday April 9th (k-o 5pm).
Pics: Simon Hall
COVENTRY: Brown; Knox, Forsyth, Owen, Stanton; Mitchell, Barton; Jeannot, Ma’asi, Bridges, Tyas, Peters, Nayalo, Bainbridge, Burrows. Replacements (all used): Haly, Woodward, Lockwood, Betteridge, Ball, Babos, James, Martin
JERSEY REDS: Owen; Simmons, Barnes, Holgate (Van Breda 5), Brown; Leeming (Pittman 65), Elliott (Mitchell 48); Flynn (Godfrey 58), Clarke (Harris 48), Longwell (Nicol 35), O’Connor (Everard 61), Cook, Argyle (Humfrey 66), Wynne (capt), Grey (White 38).
REFEREE: Andrew Jackson. Assistants: Ian Bibey, George Selwood
Half Time: 19-33
Tries: Nayalo 8, Stanton 12, Ma’asi 22, Tyas 48, Owen 64, Martin 73
Conversions: Mitchell 8, 12, 48, Knox 64
Tries: Holgate 4, Clarke 18, 37, Simmons 31, 40, 68, Barnes 43, Leeming 55, Harris 58, Mitchell 79
Conversions: Leeming 4, 31, 37, 40, 43, 55, 58, Pittman 80
18 May 2023
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