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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Harris double not enough to stop Coventry climax

DESPITE a spirited performance, Tynedale crashed to defeat against in-form Coventry on Saturday.

Two tries from full back Chris Harris, and another from man of the match Sam Reynolds were not enough to swing the game Tynedale’s way.

For once the bonus point kings were unable to add to their impressive tally of extras – but it wasn’t for want of trying.

In the closing stages, they had an eminently kickable penalty, which would have virtually assured them of a losing bonus point.

H owever, with three tries already under their belts, they wanted a fourth, which would have given them not one bonus point, but two.

The penalty was kicked to touch, and the fact the line-out came to nothing didn’t seem to matter, as at least they went down trying.

Hopes of a repeat of the stirring John Player Cup heroics of 25 years ago just failed to materialise against a Coventry side on something of a roll.

It was the Midlanders’ fourth successive win, which also saw them complete a notable double over Tom Borthwick’s men.

The Butts Park Arena crew are masters of the rolling maul, that stultifyingly dull but ruthlessly efficient tactic which wins games but loses friends.

Confusingly for the Tynedale faithful who had made the trip, Coventry played in blue and white hoops, with Tynedale in piccalilli yellow.

It was Tynedale’s first game without volcanic number eight Ollie Stedman, lured away to the bright lights of Kingston Park by Newcastle Falcons supremo, Hexhamshire resident and Tynedale Park regular Dean Richards.

The snarling savagery and newly discovered place kicking talents of the 21-year-old will doubtless be missed, but Tynedale seemed to cope quite well without him.

The excellent Stuart John took the number eight shirt, with Andrew Murray and Sam Reynolds completing the back row.

It was a frustrating game for lock Graeme Dunn, making his first appearance after a long lay off through suspension and cancellations.

He only lasted until half time, when he had to go off with a knee injury, to be replaced by Greg Irvin.

The poisoned chalice of the kicking tee was returned to Matty Outson, who responded with two successes out of three attempts.

He was replaced late on though by Irish young international George Cullen, making his first appearance at fly half since November.

The match kicked off in bright sunshine, with Coventry enjoying the benefit of a stiff breeze in the opening 40 minutes.

It took the home side eight minutes to take the lead, when Tynedale conceded a penalty for coming in at the side of a maul.

The kick was thumped to touch five metres out, and the Coventry forward machine clicked into overdrive, pulsing one way and then the other before collapsing over the line, with skipper Matt Tibbatts credited with the try. South African fly half Cliffie Hodgson converted to give Coventry a 7-0 lead.

Tynedale were soon back on terms though, when following a series of good carries by the forwards, Stuart Johnson emerged with the ball, and made good ground before feeding Harris on the edge of the 22, and the full back skated in under the posts.

Outson converted to restore parity.

And three minutes later, Tynedale were in front, courtesy of the impish skills of scrum half Harry Peck.

He took a tap penalty just outside his own 22, and effervesced through a series of tackles to the Coventry 22, when he had Harris on his shoulder to cross under the posts again.

Again Outson obliged, and Tynedale were 14-7 in front.

Back came Coventry on 18 minutes, when Tynedale hands were spotted rummaging in the ruck, and Hodgson slotted over the long range penalty.

Soon afterwards, the Coventry rolling maul went through the gears again, but ran out of steam just short of the Tynedale line, allowing the visitors to clear.

There was no reprieve on 37 minutes though, when Tynedale missed a couple of tackles, and Hodgson was able to wrong-foot Harris, and go through for try which he converted himself to make it 17-14 at half time.

Coventry struck again in the opening minute of the second half, when Tynedale lost a line out on their own 22 on their own throw.

The Midlands Mean Machine piled in again, and this time, it was lock Matt Poole who emerged from the pile up with the ball.

Hodgson converted, and the gap stretched to 10 points. However, Tynedale were not finished, and on 52 minutes, kicked a penalty to five metres out.

This time, they won the line out, and outmauled the Coventry giants for Reynolds to touch down for the try.

Outson’s kick failed, but Tynedale were back in it at 24-19.

Tynedale continued to compete well, but ran out of numbers in defence on the hour mark, when more good work by the home forwards allowed replacement Ed Tellwright to slide in for an unconverted try to complete the scoring.

Tynedale could have snatched the losing bonus point they perhaps deserved with a late penalty.

The line-out gamble failed to pay off though, and they returned up the M6 empty handed.