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Rugby Union: Leek drains Otley's resistance as Cov scrape home; Coventry 27 Otley 26.

Byline: Paul Ingleston The Butts Stadium

Despite a performance which mixed of the good, the not-so-good and almightily bad, Coventry managed to maintain their undefeated record at the Butts Park Arena.

Trailing for most of the game, victory for the home side was attained through a dogged defensive spirit in a tense eight minutes of second-half injury time.

Visiting fly-half Simon Binns, faultless before missing an injury-time penalty and having a long-range drop goal attempt charged down by scrum half Llyr Lane could have won it for the Yorkshiremen. It was that close.

Coventry fly-half Matt Leek set a club record nine penalties from nine attempts in what was a faultless performance.

But others deserved equal praise. Back rowers Tom Brown and South African Greg Freeman both performed sterling work in the defensive last stand of those added minutes, Brown particularly in stealing the ball as the home pack was in danger of being shunted back into the car park as Otley beefed up their pack with monster replacement prop Justin Wring.

Coventry could not have made a worse start. A home line-out throw five metres out went hideously wrong, the ball landing in the grateful arms of Otley No 8 Glen Wilson who trotted over the line unchallenged. Binns converted and the catch up began.

Otley were never able to charge away from Coventry in a disjointed first half. Neil Luffman was sin-binned on 17 minutes for repeated infringements as Otley's indiscipline was to prove their eventual downfall.

Freeman, who came on at half time for Neil Mason, had a false start and he was sin-binned five minutes later for a professional foul before ex-Rotherham man Neil Law joined him on 54 minutes for a high tackle on Cov wing Paul Jones. The latter offence was probably frustration at Otley's inability to play an expansive running game.

Not that Cov were much better. Lane and Leek's half back play produced chances but a mixture of poor decision-making and an inability to feed the ball out quickly denied Cov tries.

Binn's smart tap penalty and pass to centre Kyle Dench on the hour mark, Binn's converting, eased Otley away to a 26-18 lead. However, this Coventry side's desire to win at home saw Leek continue to punish Otley for every indiscretion, his 72nd minute and ninth penalty ending the scoring.

Coventry captain Adrian Olver praised Leek's display.

'I am really pleased for him, he kicked really well today, it went well for him.'

Olver added: 'We are really pleased to have won today. Otley were not a terribly good side and we made it difficult for ourselves.

'We prepared well all week but we made a few mistakes. Let's put it down as a bad day at the office. We had a few words at half time and sorted a few things out.'

Coventry's home form continues to bolster their season so far. Answers to an away-day aversion to the South West after thrashings by Penzance, Plymouth and Bristol must be found if next Saturday's Exeter trip is not to end in another heavy defeat.

COVENTRY: Davies, Richards (Kafatolu 61), Brocklehurst, Witkowski (Higgins 65), Jones (Chrystie 80), Leek, Lane, Cox, Williams (Addleton 79), Olver captain (Pulu 62), Clapham, Gulliver, Campton, Mason (Freeman 40), Farani (Brown 38).

OTLEY: Shuttleworth, Law, Mooney, Dench, Sovatabla, Binns, Brown A, Fear (Wring 75), Luffman captain (Sayers 48), Fullman, Oakes, Connor, Thorpe, Stockdale, Wilson.

Referee: Mr A P Llyr Graint Roberts
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 15, 2004
Words:575
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