Cinderford 29 Coventry 31
YOU could not fault the spirit and heart Cinderford displayed in the second half against Coventry – and it almost earned them a sixth National One victory this season, writes Laura Fell.
But a lacklustre second quarter proved decisive as they allowed the visitors to score two converted
tries to put them 28-14 ahead at the break.
It went from bad to worse for the home side as former Gloucester captain Adam Balding was taken to hospital at half-time in a neck brace after a compression injury in the opening 40 minutes.
Add that to the injury to wing Nev Codlin and the Foresters had something of a mountain to climb after the break when they had to play into the wind.
And yet they came so close to pulling off an unlikely victory through a remarkable second-half performance which saw two tries for Tom Bozzard and one for Harry Casson.
The enormous effort was not enough for a win, however, as fly-half Mark Davies missed all three conversions, but they did collect two bonus points against a side who go into the Christmas break in fifth place.
Though frustrated by another loss, director of rugby Andy Deacon was pragmatic in defeat.
He said: “We’ve got the heart, we’ve got the endeavour and we’ve got the skill but bizarrely we don’t do it in the first half, we do it in the second half.
“It’s a case of putting it all together in a game. We can then control it and win it instead of coming from behind and scraping something together.
“But I can’t ask for anything more from the boys in the way they applied themselves and how we scored in the second half.
“But we are always playing catch-up and we run out of time to catch up.
“We dropped two points today, but at least we didn’t come away empty-handed.”
With George Evans injured, inside centre Robbie Winchle was captain and he helped to break the deadlock in the seventh minute, intercepting a wayward Coventry pass and unleashing free-scoring winger Codlin to go over.
Davies converted and the hosts were 7-0 up.
But the visitors struck back from a lineout deep in Cinderford’s 22, when scrum-half Louis Silver darted over.
Full-back Cliffe Hodgson added the extras and it was all square.
Coventry were making errors and Davies took control after a driving maul was held up, his kick bouncing cleverly for Winchle to score Cinderford’s second converted try. But that was as good as it got for Cinderford in the first half.
Coventry centre Rob Knox, making his debut, went over for a converted try after a series of well-executed phases and Coventry continued to win the battle of the forwards at the set-piece and breakdown.
And the Foresters were soon made to pay for twice being caught offside.
Hodgson crashed over from a simple backs move and kicked a tricky conversion from the touchline into the wind to make it 21-14, before Mark Kohler went over on the stroke of half-time and Hodgson kicked a similar conversion cleanly.
Balding was replaced by Joe Garner and Codlin came off for Stef Hawley at the start of the second half.
Coventry lock Thomas Poole was binned for a dangerous tackle early on and Cinderford capitalised.
Cinderford muscled a rolling maul from a lineout over in the corner, Bozzard grounding the ball to make the score 28-19.
Minutes later Hodgson slotted what proved to be the decisive penalty to put the visitors 31-19 up.
Cinderford were not finished yet, though.
Twice they thought they were over for tries, but both efforts were disallowed. Cinderford remained camped in Coventry’s 22, starving the visitors of possession as the game entered the final quarter.
The stalemate was broken in the
63rd minute as Casson bulldozed
over to cut the deficit to seven
points. Punches were thrown by Coventry’s players as the pressure intensified and from the resulting catch-and-drive lineout in Coventry’s 22, Bozzard went over.
Again Davies missed the conversion but Cinderford trailed by only two points and there were still eight minutes remaining.
In injury time, a Cinderford rolling maul took them 15 metres, before the referee adjudged possession was lost and Coventry celebrated their first win at Dockham Road.
Balding left hospital on Saturday evening and was told he will require treatment from a chiropractor.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox, A Pickersgill, J Adams, R Winchle (c), N Codlin (S Hawley, 40), M Davies, C Stuart-Smith (R Boughton, 65), W Davis, T Bozzard, E Booley (T Heard, 62), H Casson, E King, R Birkin, W Keenan, A Balding (J Garner, 40). Reps: L Fortey.
COVENTRY: C Hodgson, M Kohler, R Knox, J Otutaha (L Myring, 56), W Hurrell, M Jones, L Silver, D Hobbs, C Locke (M Price, 62), T Ryan (C Thorne, 62), B Daynes (M Hubbart, 70), T Poole, Ed Milne, R Nash, M Tibbats (c)