Coventry Dragons headed to local rivals Leamington Royals looking to kick-start their season after suffering a first round defeat to last season’s champions two weeks ago. The game kicked off in typical derby fashion with exuberant defence dominating the early exchanges as poor weather conditions dictated a tight, forward orientated game.
The first breakthrough came from Coventry as good build up play put them into a position for 5/8th Mark Hyslopp to put second row forward Junior though a gap and over the whitewash for the first score. From the resulting re-start, replacement prop Matt Carrier drove at the defensive line for a 60m run before offloading to the supporting Hyslopp to go over and convert his own try to give the Dragons a 10 point lead on 12 minutes.
Leamington hit back after camping deep in the visitors half and doubled their tally to level the score just minutes later. The next 15 minutes were an error strewn affair with neither side able to take a meaningful grasp of the game. Leamington took the lead for the first time with 10 minutes remaining before Coventry ended the half with a sharp break from half-back Dean Thompson and with the try unconverted, the sides went into half-time level on the score board with 14 points apiece.
The second half started as the first half had finished with Dean Thompson again attacking the Royals line and ghosting through the defence to score under the posts from 20m out. Defence was the order of the day for both sides as any attacking threat was snuffed out before it could properly develop and both teams were reduced to one out rugby league. With 20 minutes remaining, Coventry attacked deep in the Leamington half and on the 5th tackle decided to chance their arm and run the ball with a sweeping movement from left to right culminating in Lee Ashford going over the line in the right corner.
Leamington hit-back with 10 minutes remaining to bring it to a 2 point game before Mark Hyslopp grabbed his second of the match but the failed conversion attempt meant the lead was only extended to within a converted try. With only minutes remaining, a mistake from the visitors gave the Royals a last attempt at the line and poor defence allowed the try in the left corner. With the conversion being the last kick of the game, the Dragons held their breath and watched the attempt drop short and give them their first win of the season by the skin of their teeth.
Coventry Dragons Head Coach Lee Ashford said “It was important to get the first win under our belts but we won’t be happy with the performance. We lacked cohesion but that will come as the season progresses and we get used to playing with one another. We are a new team and have talented individuals that I’m sure will mould into a unit by the time we get to the business end of the season”.