8th December 2017, 14:00 | university
By Ryan Booth
Dylan Bale scored a remarkable seven tries as Coventry preserved their 100 per cent record with a hard fought 56-34 victory over Loughborough at Westwood Heath.
After winning each of their eight fixtures throughout the first semester, they lie five points ahead of title rivals Oxford at the top of the table.
The hosts headed into the game on the back of a comfortable 70-12 triumph over strugglers Leicester, whereas Loughborough were looking to bounce back from their disappointing 40-26 defeat to Birmingham.
Bale bagged seven tries as the hosts overturned a 20-0 deficit, to ensure they finish the semester as the only unbeaten side in the division.
An upset looked certain when the visitors took the early lead.
However it wasn't to be as Coventry showed sheer resilience and spirit, in what was a remarkable fightback from the league leaders.
In addition to Bale's efforts, Kieron Mackenzie, Daniel Jones and George Green all crossed over to ensure the home side emerged victorious.
Coventry demonstrated the level of depth within their ranks after deploying two goal-kickers during the tie, David Lister kicked 7 conversions, while first team captain Juan Calvo Paz also added a conversion of his own.
Despite excelling throughout the contest personally, Coventry's Bale insisted it was his teammates that made the ultimate difference.
He said: "It was a really good win against a strong and determined Loughborough side.
"They were very structured and ran hard with ball in hand.
"I am incredibly proud of the shift the lads put in, coming from 20-0 down to a 56-34 victory shows the ethos and values that we have tried to instill this year."
With several regular starters absent for the fixture, Bale revealed the result is a testament to the squad's quality.
"With a weakened side and many regulars unavailable, it gave a chance for a lot of boys to step up, and they did that, showing our strength in depth within the club," he declared.
"It was a hard fought victory, however there is still a lot of hard work to be done over Christmas, to ensure we remain at the top of the table after our two remaining games."
The result means Coventry have the opportunity to be crowned champions when they travel to second-placed Oxford, in a title decider on Wednesday 24th January 2018.
The game is set to kick-off at 14:00pm at University Parks.
Coventry: Chris Roberts, Junior Ncube, George Green, Luke Vjestica, Adam Castles, David Lister, Daniel Jones, James Morton, Dylan Bale, Lewis Minox, Jack Craine, Juan Calvo Paz(C), Joshua Kelly.
Subs: Hubert Derex Briggs, Kieron Mackenzie, Callum Daley, Eliot Rae Jallal.
Loughborough: Harry Binnion, Ross Haley, Henry Hawes, Sam Bird, Callum Man, Danny Preistly, Harry Spawforth, Ollie McKeag, Dom Woodfine, Dan Davies, Isaac Riley, Jake Hunt, Fergus Gregori.
Subs: Cam Harrison, Fergus Campbell.
There was just one other game in the semester's final round of fixtures in the Midlands 1A division.
Birmingham claimed back-to-back victories for the first time this season after beating Oxford Brookes 40-24 at Brookes' Westminster Campus.
The win moves Birmingham up to fourth in the table, just two points below Brookes.
Featured image credit: Coventry University Rugby League