Jersey Reds finished their season with a third successive defeat, mirroring the trio of defeats with which they began their 2018/19 Championship campaign.
In between their bad runs at the start and finish of the campaign, the Reds won 12 out of 16 league games which resulted in a final ranking of fourth, their best-ever at this level.
But it was nevertheless a disappointing day for the home side, who had battled back from a 3-22 deficit shortly before the break to recover to 20-22 just before the hour. However Coventry finished strongly, crossing for their fourth and fifth tries during the last quarter to close out a win and secure eighth place in their first season back in the Championship.
Playing into a stiff wind that was a significant factor all day, the Reds got the opening score with a try for Nick Selway from a well-worked maul, but the visitors then responded with a barrage of 22 unanswered points.
Will Maisey slotted a penalty, then David Halaifonua crossed after good approach work from Andy Bulumaka and Ben Nutley. The second try was Scott Tolmie’s after a powerful maul, and then Bulumakau ripped the ball from Leroy Van Dam seconds after the restart and raced 50 metres to the line.
The home side had their moments during the first half, notably some fine charging runs by Roy Godfrey, and Janco Venter being held up in the Bowl Corner, but couldn’t add to their points tally until the closing moments of the half, with that man Salad crossing via another unstoppable maul.
The late score gave the Reds hope going into the second half, with the deficit reduced to 10 points and the wind at their backs; expectations mounted thanks to Brett Herron’s penalty from inside his own half and Kyle Hatherell’s try, which narrowed the gap to just two points with 25 minutes left.
The home side might have seemed favourites at this point, with the wind at their backs, but Coventry were in determined mood. Maisey crossed under the posts after a fleet-footed Will Owen break, and then skipper Heath Stevens crashed over after his forwards had rumbled 30 metres in a maul to seal the win.
Earlier in the day Coventry won an entertaining 2nd team encounter against Jersey Reds Athletic by 17-33, the game featuring swansongs for retiring visiting players Latu Maka’afi – formerly of this parish – Sam Tuitupou and Phil Nilsen.
JERSEY REDS: Herron; Stapley (Howley 78), Ma’afu, Eastwell, Van Dam; Penberthy, Homer; Godfrey (c) (Morley 78), Selway (Macfarlane 72), Atalifo (Alexis 62), Bartle (Hallam-Eames 72), Beckett, Upfield (Joyce 72), Hatherell, Venter (Newey 74).
COVENTRY: Halaifonua; Bulumakau (Kessell 78), Stevens (c), Owen, Trimble (Knox 59); Maisey, White; Gibbons (Ellis 51), Dawidiuk (Tolmie 23), Brighouse (Boulton h-t), Russell (Oram 51), Woolford (Voss h-t), Nutley, Ram, Adams
REFEREE: Matt Turvey. Assistants: Bill Burton, Ian Bibey
Half Time: 12-22
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Rubis): Roy Godfrey
Tries: Selway 11, 39, Hatherell 56
Conversion: Herron 39
Penalties: Herron 41, 65
Tries: Halaifonua 17, Tolmie 30, Bulumakau 32, Maiey 61, Stevens 71
Conversions: Maisey 17, 30, 61, 71
Penalty: Maisey 14