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Knights taste opening day defeat at Butts Park.  

Knights 39-22 Coventry  

Despite an electric start the Knights fell to a disappointing defeat on their Championship return with hosts Coventry Rugby running out five tries to three winners.

Despite the full time score it was the Knights who started the game brighter. With impressive intensity they quickly raced into a double figure lead; Steve Boden’s men looked quickest to every exchange and sharper in thought also.

Sam Olver opened the scoring with a penalty, following a dominant scrum, before Kyle Evans got his first try of the new season.

It was not a typical Evans score with the winger barreling over at the back of a fifteen man rolling maul but it was the end result of some superb, patient line out work. Olver slotted the extras from wide out, 0-10.

The hosts woke up shortly after and began to challenge the Donny line, back-row Josh Bainbridge and former Knight Will Owen looked lively when given space and asked questions with a productive off loading game.

As the match went on it did become a little flat with both sides showing some off-season rust. The scrum became a battle ground and often ended in penalties with neither side obviously on top.

On 30 minutes Coventry were awarded a kickable penalty but turned down the opportunity for points, instead going to the corner. The Knights forwards were able to repel the initial drive but when scrum half Josh Barton hit Nile Dacres on a nice short line the second row barged over to score. Tony Fenner adds the extras, 7-10.

The closing stages of the opening forty belonged to the hosts with the Knights unable to recapture their early rhythm and, if truth be told, hanging on for half time.

Fenner levelled scores with a long range penalty as the clock ticked to forty and sides went into the change of ends all square.

The hosts began the second half how they ended the first & quickly set about the Knights line after the restart, only resolute defending preventing a Coventry score.

Against the run of play the Knights showed their ruthless edge to move back into the lead.

After forcing a scrum penalty, Olver put his forwards in the corner and they executed with aplomb. A tidy lineout was quickly driven forward with hooker Will Holling dotted down for a score converted by Olver.

The Knights were given no time to appreciate their lead, however, and it was quickly stripped away from them with back to back Cov scores.

Firstly, Adam Peters got over from close range following a deep line out and then Josh Bainbridge finished some lovely hands after Ryan Burrows had returned the restart with interest. Replacement fly-half Tom Curtis hit the second conversion to make the scores 22-17.

Trailing for the first time the Knights needed to find something in the final quarter but it wasn’t to be and the hosts just seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Curtis struck with just over ten to play, darting through a gap he created with a smart dummy and then five minutes later Burrows capped off a fine performance with a score from close range.

The Knights did manage to improve on their total when John Kelly scored from a tap penalty. The number eight showing his raw strength after a surging Jack Spittle break drew a foul out of the Cov defence.

It was the hosts who had the last laugh though as Curtis struck a long range penalty to end the game, final score 39-22.

A rude awakening for the Knights side who will hope for an improved showing next Saturday when London Scottish arrive at Castle Park.

Coventry XV | 15 Tom Stanton; 14 Tom Howe, 13 Rob Knox, 12 Will Owen (Tom Griffiths 77’), 11 Andy Forsyth; 10 Tony Fenner (Tom Curtis’) , 9 Josh Barton (Joe Snow 67’); 1 Toby Trinder (Dan Richardson 51’), 2 Suva Ma’asi (Joe Richardson 67’), 3 Phil Boulton (Joe Jones 51’), 4 Adam Peters (Rhys Thomas 67’), 5 Nile Dacres (Jonathan Kpoku 56’), 6 Senitiki Nayalo, 7 Josh Bainbridge, 8 Ryan Burrows (capt)

Replacements | 16 Joe Richardson, 17 Dan Richardson, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Jonathan Kpoku, 20 Rhys Thomas, 21 Joe Snow, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Tom Griffiths

Tries; Dacres 30’, Peters 50’, Bainbridge 57’, Curtis 71’, Burrows 79’

Conv; Fenner 30’, Curtis 57’, 71’, 79’

Pens; Fenner 40’, Curtis 80’

Starting XV | 15 Billy McBryde, 14 Kyle Evans, 13 Fraser Strachan, 12 Connor Edwards (Harry Davey 74’), 11 Jack Spittle, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Gus Warr (Alex Dolly 74’), 1 Conrad Cade (Will Vaughan 64’), 2 Will Holling (George Roberts 54’), 3 Andy Foster (Henry Paul 28’), 4 Danny Drake (Josh Peters 73’), 5 Jack Davies, 6 Sam Graham (Guido Volpi 47’), 7 Sam Hudson (George Edgson 75’), 8 John Kelly.

Replacements | 16 George Roberts, 17 Will Vaughan, 18 Henry Paul, 19 Josh Peters, 20 George Edgson, 21 Alex Dolly, 22 Harry Davey, 23 Guido Volpi.

Tries; Evans 10’, Holling 51’, Kelly 80’

Conv; Olver 10’, 51’

Pens; Olver 6’ 

Referee: Sara Cox

Attendance: 1,823

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