COVENTRY Rugby’s performance at Bishop’s Stortford told head coach Nick Walshe everything he needed to know about his players.
It was Cov’s first game away from Butts Park since their heavy defeat at Blackheath two weeks earlier, and although they had bounced back with a big win over Esher, that was on home soil where the league leaders haven’t been beaten since October 1, 2016.
But if there had been any doubts, they were dispelled by the manner of Saturday’s 36-10 win as Cov kept their line intact until the final play of the game against a side that had run them very close when they met for the first time in October.
Not that the Blackheath game will be forgotten.
“The memory will stay with us for the whole season,” said Walshe. “But the reaction from that game over the last two weeks has been brilliant – it’s just been about learning from what happened in that game and making sure we reacted the right way, and we have done.
“The boys were outstanding.
“Now we’ve got to keep it going. There’s no point having this one game away from home and doing really well, and then not backing it up.
“We’ve still got eleven games to go, we’ve got to go from week to week and keep backing up each performance.
“It was always in our own hands, even after Blackheath, and we’ve just got to keep working – and we will – as hard as we can to make sure we do not have another performance like that one.”
Playing with the advantage of a stiff wind, Cov weathered a lively start by the home side before opening up a 26-3 lead by half-time and then containing all Stortford’s efforts to get back into contention and wrapping things up with two more tries in the final quarter.
“We prepared really well in the week, especially on Thursday, and we had a game plan,” said Walshe.
“We’ve come away to a ground where these guys have been really competitive, they’ve had some good wins and top sides have struggled and haven’t blown them away, but we’ve done that – we were just really clinical, so I’m very pleased with that.
“We started really well. They’re a good side, they play some good rugby and into the wind they kicked quite well, but I thought we defended really well all game and we just had to bide our time.
“Into that wind it’s hard work, they ran themselves into the ground a little bit, and we were very clinical to get that lead towards the end of the first half.
“It still wasn’t guaranteed because there was hardly any play up in their 22 in the second half, but we controlled them well and those two tries of ours were crucial.
“We wanted to not concede, but six tries to one and a bonus point win in greasy conditions is outstanding and we can’t be that arrogant to think we are going to come to places like this and not give away a try.
“This was a really good win.”