COVENTRY clinched a Championship Cup quarter-final berth through a 31-29 bonus point victory over visiting Doncaster Knights, writes Paul Smith.
Cov fell foul of referee George Selwood three times during the early stages and from the resulting field position Doncaster tight head prop Colin Quigley rumbled under the home posts for a try which Dougie Flockhart converted.
The hosts responded through Rob Knox, who stroked over two 48-metre wind-assisted penalties from identical positions just inside the Knights’ half head-on to the posts.
And the Blue & Whites took the lead for the first time shortly before the end of the opening quarter when Will Maisey split the uprights with a close-range penalty.
As the match approached the half-hour mark, Knights claimed their second try through their powerful forwards who drove a lineout for hooker Ben Hunter to claim the touchdown.
Cov’s forwards hit immediately back by driving a lineout to the visitors’ five-metre line, only to be penalised on the ground.
The home side lost Phil Nilsen to the sin bin six minutes before the break when they were deemed to have made one high tackle too many.
But despite a prolonged spell of Doncaster pressure, and a near-miss when Charlie Foley was unable to ground the ball, the home line remained intact until the interval.
Immediately after the break Coventry were restored to 15 and a Dan Faleafa break took them into Knights territory where the visitors lost Robin Hislop to the sinbin for a dangerous tackle.
Coventry’s forwards took advantage of their numerical superiority to drive deep into the Doncaster 22, where they won two penalties then eventually forced replacement hooker Darren Dawidiuk over from a line-out.
Rory Pitman then carried strongly for Doncaster, who won a penalty on the ground which Flockhart converted into three simple points.
The Doncaster winger turned from hero to villain early in the final quarter when he was sin-binned for a high tackle on his opposite number.
And after Cov kicked into the away 22, quick possession enabled Pete White to release former Doncaster winger Junior Bulumakau to the corner.
The hosts then put daylight between the teams with a superb long-distance counter-attack try.
It was created by James Stokes and Bulumakau and finished by Knox. Maisey kicked the conversion.
Coventry secured the spoils and a bonus point when Sam Tuitupou forced his way over from close range following another good period of continuity.
As the contest went into stoppage time, the newly-returned Flockhart picked off a midfield pass and raced close to the home line before sending Will Owen over for a try which he also converted.
Doncaster also had the last word through a try from full back Cameron Cowell and Flockhart’s conversion.
Coventry make the trip to Yorkshire Carnegie on Saturday for their final Pool One fixture.