Coventry 27 Wharfedale 11
Coventry emerged clear winners in a tough encounter played in heavy going at Butts Park Arena.
Injury-hit Wharfedale may feel that they expended a lot of effort for little reward, but the pre-match disruption requiring the emergency re-signing of Loughborough’s Joe Altham together with crucial first half injuries on the pitch took their toll.
Coventry, with a tight defence and the sharper scoring edge, scored three precisely judged tries to Wharfedale’s late single late consolation score.
Their greater mid-field enterprise and clever execution was the determining difference between the two sides who otherwise slugged it out fairly evenly up front.
The hosts strangely ignored two easily kickable chances given they possess their league’s leading point scored in fly-half Cliffie Hodgson, who nevertheless ended up with a faultless 17 point haul.
Such over-confidence immediately looked misplaced as Wharfedale forward pressure secured two penalties to take the lead, the first by Christian Georgiou followed by one from Lloyd Davies after Wharfedale had shunted back a Coventry scrum. The mystery of the change of kicker was revealed when Georgiou left the field with a knee injury.
Coventry took the lead when Hodgson slid a neat grubber for centre Greg Evans to follow through under the visitors’ posts. Hodgson himself added a second try with a slicing break and the former Rotherham player converted both for a 14-6 half time lead.
Two early second half penalties earned Coventry breathing space and an increasingly dominant side added a third try with Hodgson and the ever threatening Evans combined to send lively flanker Liam Monroe over.
Wharfedale managed some reward for their combative play with a driven line out score from replacement hooker Steve Graham – itself an achievement against the meanest defence in the Division. But it could not disguise a disappointing display from their back division.