With the Mayor of Gateshead, Malcolm Brain an interested spectator the game started with Blaydon being caught cold having missed a number of tackles and unexpectedly found themselves 15 points in arrears after just 18 minutes play – but then up stepped teenager Zach Kibirige.
In six minutes of sheer class the young winger ran in two tries himself and put one on a plate for Nathan Bailey to completely transform the game and put the visitors firmly in their place.
Jokingly referring to it as ‘Kevin Keegan style rugby, all attack and no defence’, Director of rugby Micky Ward said afterwards “You can have the best defensive system in the world but if you slide off tackles you are going to struggle.”
After conceding the early scores to Matt Tibbatts and Greg Evans and a conversion and penalty to Cliff Hodgson the game took a sudden turn when Kibirige left his wing to pop up in mid-field in support of an Andrew Baggett break. Collecting from Gavin Painter he simply side-stepped the first challenge to scythe through the rest of the defence with nonchalant ease.
Scarcely had the dust settled when back on the wing he shot clear from Charles Inceldon’s pass to draw the cover and send in full-back Bailey. Coventry were at 6’s and 7’s and could only watch bemused when he ended the virtuoso performance by nipping in to hack on and race through to collect and score.
By the interval Painter had also broken clear from half-way to wrap-up the bonus point try and 0-15 had ominously become 24-15, with more to follow.
It was all Blaydon at the start of the second period and following a spate of penalties and eventually a yellow card for Coventry lock Dan Wright two more scores were secured, both by leading try scorer Robert Bell. The flanker touched down from a majestic catch and drive and then seven minutes later broke off from another attacking maul to cross near the posts and give Baggett a third successful conversion to add to his earlier penalty.
At which point the foot came off the Blaydon pedal and the visitors were allowed the consolation of their own bonus point with tries from replacements Matt Paice and Andy Murray.