Rugby Union: Coventry comeback outflanked

Rotherham 20 Coventry 13

COVENTRY AND Rotherham might well have their foundations in comparable manufacturing towns, but the similarity ends there. While Coventry had spent the first century of their rugby existence lauding it with the elite of the English game, and could turn out sides stuffed with internationals, Rotherham are the product of an altogether different age.

As Coventry began their downhill spiral which led to the Third Division, before receivership threatened to pull down the whole edifice at Coundon Road, Rotherham, who a decade ago were in North Two and content to win the South Yorkshire Cup, are among the highest achievers in the new-style game. Only last May, Rotherham were just a kick away from promotion to Allied Dunbar One.

Having got that far, the point now is whether Rotherham are sufficiently motivated, and have the personnel, to be able to take that final step. It is a question that Coventry have been asking themselves ever since Derek Eves arrived from Bristol in 1995. Eves' ebullience helped them into the Second Division, and it seemed almost axiomatic that a second promotion would follow. But it all went sour, even though Coventry made the play-offs two seasons ago, and Eves was sacked last February.

Now there is a new mood at Coventry. One former international from their glory days, Keith Fairbrother, has masterminded a financial rescue and brought in some fresh faces, including director of rugby Keith Richardson, who was tutored in the Gloucester school of forward pragmatism. It is too early to tell if Coventry are on the threshold of regaining their earlier eminence, but the signs are encouraging, despite Saturday's defeat.

Conceding three tries to one spoiled Coventry's bright start to the first full campaign under Richardson and new captain, Chris Tarbuck. And both will be mindful that, if Coventry had showed more consistency, especially in attack, they could have ended Rotherham's unbeaten Premiership Two record at Clifton Lane, which stretches back 18 months.

Where Coventry were consistent was in the amount of ball they turned over; often at times when the Rotherham defence was stretched to the limit. "We could have won, but didn't deserve to," said Richardson. "We gave away too much possession. I'm not a fortune teller, and I can't say where we will finish up at the end of the season. But I can assure you that we will improve considerably on today's performance."

It might not take much. A few more doses of hard-nosed Richardson realism and Coventry could be on the up again. They led 6-3 at the break and from the restart Coventry were soon on the attack, and just as soon turned over. Alan Buzza ran out of defence, cross kicked, the bounce deceived all Coventry, and Phil Greaves scored by the posts. If that try had an element of good fortune about it, Ben Wade's six minutes later did not.

Matt Gallagher's try and Steve Gough's conversion brought it to 15-13. But when Coventry withdrew both flankers from a scrum on their own line, Rotherham drove over for Howard Parr to claim the touchdown. Richardson was not best pleased at that piece of largesse.

Rotherham; Tries Greaves, Wade, Parr; Conversion Binns; Penalty Binns. Coventry; Try Gallagher; Conversion Gough; Penalties Gough 2.

Rotherham: P Greaves; D Lax, C Hassan, J Shepherd, A Buzza (M Dawson, 51); S Binns, D Scully (capt); S Bunting (J Thorp, 77), T Garnett, S Turner (R Hanson, 77), J Dudley (D Cook, 64), G Kenworthy, B Wade, N Spence, H Parr (P Manley, 77).

Coventry: S Gough; K Johnson, N Osman, M Davies (M Curtis, 62), A Smallwood; M Gallagher, N Cane (T Dawson, 60); J Broady, D Addleton, T Revan, G Delaney, N Watkins, J Horrobin, A Dawling (L Crofts, 52), C Tarbuck (capt).

Referee: C Rees (Twickenham).

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

FLEX Developer

£45000 - £65000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, ...

SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a global leader in the Oil &a...

SAP Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000. Wakefield

£55000 - £450000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Consultant...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn