IT was smiles all round as Coventry overcame the weather, early injuries and stubborn opposition to continue their record-breaking season with a 48-13 win over Old Elthamians at Butts Park Arena.
The Blue & Whites turned on the style after a testing start to finish with seven tries, and ended the day 30 points clear at the top of the National League One table and within touching distance of the title.
“Hats off to the boys for performing that well in those conditions,” said director of rugby, Rowland Winter. “It rained for most of the game, and I’d challenge any supporter to try to cross that pitch and stay on their feet.
“Old Elthamians came with a particular game plan, they’re a fantastic side, and in the first half they did pressure us and probably showed us the level of attention that the boys had to reach to nil them in the second half.
“I think we looked a bit sleepy and rusty, a bit like we hadn’t played or had a solid week of training due to the weather, and we struggled to get out of second or third gear in the first half.
“But there were moments in the second half when in those conditions we were playing exceptional rugby – that offloading, Toulouse-esque passage of play that so nearly came off.
“We got off to a good start with an early try, and, again, we scored some well-worked tries coming off Nick Walshe’s training ground inventions in the week.
“It’s another step nearer, and we’ll keep rolling along and see what we can do.”
Cov’s strength in depth was tested again by early injuries to prop Luc Jeannot and centre Sam Tuitupou, who were both forced off just 14 minutes into the game.
Said Winter: “The bench was very good today, and I think we’ve got some selection issues for the next couple of weeks.
“We rode out those couple of injury issues very well. To be able to bring Phil Boulton and Alex Grove off the bench when you lose two players is never a bad thing and it showed the depth we have got.
“It looks like both injured players will be out for a little while, we’ll know later but it looks like Luc has broken his thumb and Sam has broken something in his foot, but we’ve got some strength in the squad.”
The injury to Jeannot meant that loose head Andy Brown – making his 100th league appearance for Cov – had to play the full 80 minutes, a rarity for a prop these days.
“To get to 100 games is an achievement for any player in the modern game of rugby,” said Winter, “and for Andy to do it while holding down a full-time job with the challenges the game presents today is exceptional for him and shows his loyalty. I’m sure there’s a few more to come as well.”