Gnr Senitiki Nayalo (7 Para RHA) extended his scoring streak to three successive matches in all competitions to help Coventry fly home from Jersey with a Championship Cup final spot in their carry-on luggage.
Coventry has had a good record in the Channel Islands since their return to the Championship in 2018, but Jersey had by far the better form guide in 2021/22, finishing fourth in the table to Coventry’s ninth and beating the West Midlanders 66-38 at Butts Park Arena in March.
Gnr Nayalo scored one of Coventry’s consolation tries that day, but his effort on Friday afternoon was much more meaningful, as it helped take the travellers out to a 17-0 lead in the opening half-hour.
Not even a yellow card shown to the big back rower could swing the momentum fully away from Coventry, and even though Jersey did stage a fightback in the final five minutes it was far too late and the blue and whites ran out with a 20-17 final scoreline.
Coventry will head to Ealing Trailfinders next weekend for the final on the back of three successive away wins in the Championship Cup, and Gnr Nayalo will definitely appreciate any support that fans of red shirt rugby can take to Trailfinders Sports Ground!
In the Premier 15s there was no spectacular sign-off for Capt Gemma Rowland (RA) and her Wasps team mates, although they gave semi-final-bound Saracens an almighty scare at StoneX Stadium.
Wasps’ play-off hopes had been extinguished with the Round 17 loss to Gloucester-Hartpury, but there was London pride to play for, and the visitors came firing out of the blocks.
Three converted tries in the opening half-hour put Wasps 21-0 up, but Saracens is a club which is renowned for its fortitude, and although the teams traded tries either side of the break the second half belonged to the hosts.
Saracens steadily reduced the gap throughout the half, landing the sucker punch and winning try just three minutes before the final whistle, 31-26 the final scoreline.
Wasps finished the league in fifth place, one place and nine league points away from the play-off places.
Images © Alligin Photography, Lee Crabb
This past weekend also saw the opening round of the 2022 Super Sevens Series in Newbury, with the Army being represented in both the Men’s and Women’s competitions.
The Men were pipped to the 2021 title on try difference and headed to Berkshire fresh from a title-winning day in Melrose last time out.
However they had a challenging day at Monks Lane, opening the day with a 14-24 loss to China’s international team. This was followed by wins over Scimitar Storm (31-21) and Nigeria Exiles (26-5), but that opening reverse put them into a harder quarter final against another international team, Spain.
Three first-half tries from Spain put the Army under pressure, but the red shirts did not help themselves with four yellow cards, and the 12-31 final result left them out of the competition and needing to battle back in style at Hazelwood on May 28th.
The Women’s team reached the semi-finals, having showed their character in the opening match against the Lionesses. A lead became a deficit, which in turn became a fightback to make the final scoreline 19-14, a strong start to the day.
The Army also fell behind in their second match against Bath, but the confidence from their opening match continued as the red shirts found their patterns of play to see off the west country outfit 31-12.
A walkover in their third pool match meant that the final round-robin became a winner-takes-all clash with Samurai to decide who would top the group. This was a hard-fought contest, but the 19-29 result put the Army through as runners-up and facing a semi-final against Hong Kong.
This was a game too far, and while the Army battled throughout it was the international team which racked up the tries, eventually winning 36-10.
Round 2 of the Super Sevens Series will be at Hazelwood, home of Premiership outfit London Irish, on Saturday, May 28th.
Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks
Header and Featured Images © John Coles