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by John Butler

COVENTRY’S last opponents in this momentous season, Hull Ionians are paying just their fourth visit to Butts Park Arena on Saturday.

Following the first fixtures in 2013/14, with a year’s gap, it will be the seventh time we have met, Cov currently enjoying a 100 % winning record. On the opening day of this season, we left Brantingham Park with a 63-20 win after Hull Ionians had moved into a very early lead with two tries.

Ionian’s facility is in fine rural surroundings and was first opened in 1995. The club itself was formed six years earlier in 1989 following the merger of the Hull and East Riding and Ionians clubs.

Under head coach Alex Crockett, Ionians completed last season in 13th place and currently they are 14th. It all adds up to the fact that they require nothing less than a win today to avoid relegation, although even that, with others having a game in hand, might not prove to be enough.

Hull Ionians have won twice on their travels this season. Two weeks ago they produced a fine, late 37-36 win at Rosslyn Park to add to their earlier success at Fylde.

Two names particularly known to us in the visiting squad are prop forward Rikki Stout, who made 15 appearances for Cov in 2014/15 and centre James Tincknell, 11 appearances in 2015/16. Also in the first-team pool is Jay Heath who was at Cov last season.

Scrum-half Isaac Green heads his club’s points tally with 129, winger Sam Wilson has run in 16 tries, which sees him featuring in the division’s top ten, and back row forward James Sanderson has nine.

Apart from the game, there will be plenty going on at Butts Park, starting with on-pitch activities for pupils from the schools around the area who are part of  Coventry’s flourishing Community Programme and followed by the Lady Godiva pageant and a handover of the City of Culture mantle from Hull to Coventry.

Post-match, at around 5pm Cov will be officially proclaimed National League One champions with the presentation of the winner’s trophy. Please stay on to witness this and salute the squad’s achievements.