24 March 2012, AEI 25, Coventry Tech II 38

Fielding a much larger squad of 19 than the previous week but in much warmer conditions, the AEI were unable to capitalise on the dominance provided by the pack and slipped to another defeat in a game which they should have won comfortably but for some poor passing which gifted the opposition 2 tries. With only 8 players from last week available for the trip to Coventry Tech, the new look backline were unable to convert the opportunities provided them by a scrum which had Coventry’s 8 backpedalling for much of the game.

A marginally backwards pass was collected by the home side after 10 minutes to enable them to open the scoring with a converted try (the relative comfort in the scoreline provided by Tech converting 4 from 6). However, AEI were able to respond almost immediately when Gareth Bott beat his man on the outside to touch down but was unable to convert to leave AEI trailing 7-5 at halftime.

This inability to at least draw level continued throughout the second half and AEI’s attempts to catch Tech were hindered by two interception tries; the first from a poor pass after a penalty 5 metres from Tech’s tryline and the second, with AEI pressing on halfway, a pass into a grateful Tech player’s hands who was trying to get back onside.

When AEI were able to string phases together and keep their passing to themselves, the backline showed what they could do with first Pieter Stander and then Erwann Mauxion crossing the Tech try line. Injuries to centre Rob Bollen, his replacement Tom Oxberry and the inevitable shuffling of backs meant that the AEI backs were never at their sharpest and could not turn possession into points.

However AEI refused to lay down: a scintillating 60 metre run from man of the match prop Rory Macdonald and a quick tap penalty from Nathan Yeung gave some measure of comfort but it was not enough to compensate for the lost opportunity to put pressure on the leading teams for the league title.

With a home game against Coventrians on the final Saturday of March, AEI will be looking to field a much stronger team than the one that lost away before Christmas and get back to winning ways.