Coventry Rugby are aiming to see in the New Year in style by reaching the top of the Championship table through a bonus point win at Bedford Blues.
Admittedly the vagaries of playing in an eleven-team division plus weather-driven postponements make the current league table a complex and somewhat unreliable benchmark.
Even if Cov collect a maximum-point return on Monday, both second-placed Doncaster and current leaders Ealing could go back ahead of Alex Rae’s team during the 19-day break that splits Monday’s brought-forward game from their next outing at London Scottish.
But nonetheless reaching the summit for the first time this season by claiming a win over the club where he played most of his career then began life as a coach, is a prospect which excites their head coach.
“If we can get five points we’ll be top of the table going into the 11-day break the players are having after Monday’s game,” Rae said.
“Bedford are anticipating close to 5000 and that’s why we were happy to move the game forward since as players and coaches that’s the kind of atmosphere you want to play in.
“We’re really looking forward to trying to spoil their party in the same way that Nottingham came to the BPA on Boxing Day and attempted to spoil ours.”
According to Rae the win over Nottingham brought no additional injury concerns and with hookers Suva Ma’asi and Will Biggs back in training Cov’s preparation has been untroubled.
“We came through the Nottingham game unscathed injury-wise then we had one big session on Friday and after a day off then a light session on Sunday we’ll be straight into the game,” he said.
“Bedford have had a couple of extra days since their last game but on the back on a couple of wins it’s kept things simple for us.
“We have won our last five games against Bedford, and six of the last seven, so we’re going there full of confidence and knowing what we need to do to get a win at Goldington Road.”
Since losing at home to Ealing in the Championship’s opening round, the Blues claimed successive wins over Cornish Pirates, Hartpury, Cambridge and Nottingham prior to last weekend’s 22-31 local derby success at Ampthill.
This leaves Mike Rayer’s third-placed team two points and one league position ahead of the blue-and-whites despite having played one fewer game due to a frozen pitch abandonment at Caldy.
Rae is therefore expecting a difficult game against his former club who he describes as a potent attacking force – especially at home.
“I played 156 games for Bedford and have lots of strong friendships there,” he said.
“I also view Mike as something of a mentor from a coaching perspective so it’s going to be nice going back there although we know it will be a really tough game against the best attacking team in the league.”