by John Butler
TWO wins from two, 113 points scored, 17 tries run in and only three conceded, two of those within the space of the opening ten minutes on day one.
And until the slight lapse in concentration during injury time last Saturday, the squad had gone a minimum of 150 minutes without conceding a try!
Interesting statistics indeed as Cov approach a ground and opposition which for many, fans included, will bring back immediately happy memories.
It was on Saturday 8th April, 2017, that the Coventry squad of last season set a new club record in winning and achieving the biggest away league margin, 73-8.
In the build up to this Saturday’s next meeting with Old Albanian, both clubs with undoubtedly recall events of that day.
The dangers from a Coventry perspective do stand out pretty clearly, but there can be no doubt the many experienced heads in the camp will know only too well the pitfalls and dangers of taking things for granted.
From the Old Albanian side faced last season, very few appeared in their colours last Saturday in a narrow defeat at Ampthill. Craig Dowsett, either on the wing or at full-back, lock forward Sam Lunnon and a replacement last week, Ollie Walker, were the only three that Cov faced last time round.
Beginning this season with two defeats, which has left them third from bottom, the OA club though will still see Cov’s visit as a real point to prove. Their one previous home fixture on the opening day brought a resounding 58-0 defeat at the hands of Rosslyn Park. Last week’s visit to Ampthill saw a much closer game, 28-24.
Cov, though, know only too well how difficult potentially visits to Ampthill can be, so that result achieved by OA should certainly be viewed very seriously.
Other than the names of the players mentioned just a little earlier, not too much is known about the Old Albanian squad. They have a new head coach in Gavin Hogg, formerly with Bury St Edmunds, who replaced the long serving James Shanahan, now at Blackheath. What is known of course is that there is a close link with Saracens for dual registered/loan players.
There was quite a big exodus during the close season. From a Coventry perspective, one of those to move on was Ben Palmer, top points scorer at the Woollams last season and scorer of that brilliant individual try at the BPA last Saturday. James Pritchard, having been briefly at OA after leaving Cov, is now at Ampthill, whilst the experienced Harry Bate and Billy Johnsonm ,amongst some eleven departees, have also moved on.
Previously an Old Boys club, OA went open just under 50 years ago. They have actually been at the Woollams Playing location since around 2002 and are now in their second spell and indeed second season back in National League One.
Old Albanian’s first season in level 3 came in 2012/13 and that first year saw them gain the double over Cov; they indeed won three out of the first four meetings. Since then, Cov have won the last four, bearing in mind the one-year gap in 2014/15 when O A spent a year back in National 2 South.
Overall, following the double last season, 43-42 at the BPA followed by the record-breaking away win, Coventry lead 5-3 in wins.
One factor, however, is without doubt. On the back of a good pre-season and with two fine wins already under their belts, Phil Boulton and the squad will travel full of confidence, but already with the knowledge that they are ‘there to be a shot at’ – a factor well acknowledged by director of rugby, Rowland Winter immediately after the fine result achieved over Birmingham Moseley.
The hard-working Supporters’ Club is again running transport to the match. For those still hoping to travel with them to St Albans, an early enquiry is essential as places have been filling up fast.