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A superb wind-assisted first half display which generated four unanswered tries set Coventry Rugby on their way to a bonus point win at Cambridge.

After Ryan Hutler’s tenth score of a prolific campaign set the ball rolling, Cov hit the Blood & Sand with a second-quarter three-timer delivered by Paddy Ryan, Jimmy Martin and Eliot Salt.

Will Wand then added a fifth score from long distance soon after the restart before Cambridge’s powerful driving lineout edged them into the game.

As a result replacements Ben Brownlie and Matt Collins scored close-range tries for the hosts which were split by full back Eli Caven’s longer-range effort.

But it was Alex Rae’s team who finished as deserving winners and as a result will approach their Christmas campaign against Nottingham and Bedford with a spring in their step.

Cambridge were led out by former Cov flanker Ben Adams whose unusual celebration of his 100th game for his new club involved his beagle joining him to take a well-deserved round of applause.

But it was the Cov Dogs who were quickly snapping at their opponents’ heels during an opening 40 minutes almost entirely played in home territory.

Their opening score was created by a typically sharp Pat Pellegrini break and the supporting Will Chudley, who after the move looked to have broken down, picked out try-scorer Hutler lurking on the right wing.

Frustratingly, after twice declining shots at goal in favour of attacking lineouts Cov then failed to secure possession on either occasion which meant their first-quarter dominance had delivered only five points.

Hutler was seeing plenty of the ball and he then twice went close when narrowly unable to beat the cover to chip-and-chase attempts.

The visitors’ second score owed everything to some quick thinking from USA international Ryan. The flanker spotted that the ball had touched the try-line at the base of a defensive ruck and dived between a forest of Cambridge legs to touch down an enterprising score which Pellegrini upgraded.

Former Cambridge winger Martin then claimed his sixth score of the season through a powerful twisting finish after he was released by a neat Pellegrini-Hutler combination.

Cov’s Tongan international no.10 tagged the extras on from the touchline and he soon delivered a repeat performance after prop Salt forced his way over for his first Cov try.

Jordon Poole carries into contact (photo: John Coles)

Cambridge prop Jake Ellwood by then was in the sin bin after becoming the fall guy for his team’s repeated breakdown infringements and soon after the interval and before he returned to the fray Cov added a fifth try.

This came from an unpromising starting point as Martin gathered deep in his own 22 before skipper Jordon Poole broke a tackle and offloaded to Wand who pinned his ears back and skated to his former club’s posts from 70 metres to register his fifth try of the season which Pellegrini converted.

Now playing with the elements, Cambridge tightened up their approach and sought to pin Cov back in their own 22 at every opportunity.

The home side’s powerful maul produced an opening score to which Brownlie applied the finishing touch and Jamie Benson added a simple conversion.

Cov were now absorbing plenty of pressure and after Tiki Nayalo saw yellow for a high hit Cambridge winger Joe Green broke a tackle on halfway and sent Caven racing to the line for a score which Benson again improved.

The blue-and-whites enjoyed the briefest of spells with a full complement of players since replacement Rhys Anstey was despatched to the bin for collapsing a maul directly after Nayalo’s replacement Jack Bartlett had returned.

The hosts drove replacement Collins over from the ensuing penalty for their third score, but any hopes of securing a fourth try (and two bonus points) were snuffed out as the visitors dominated possession in a closing five minutes played mostly in home territory.



Tries: Brownlie (52), Caven (62), Collins (73)

Cons: Benson (52) (62)


Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Hutler (7), Ryan (27), Martin (34), Salt (40), Wand (43)

Cons: Pellegrini (27) (34) (40) (43)



Cambridge: Caven; Asiedu, T.Hoppe (James 55), Hema, Green; Benson, Edwards (Garside 56); Ellwood (Brownhill 62), Veness (Brownlie 38), Verden (Collins 62); Frost (Irvine 52), Bretag-Norris; Richards, Adams (Dawson 52), B.Hoppe (Merigan 48)

Coventry: Wilson; Hutler, Wand, Rigg, Martin; Pellegrini (Mitchell 65), Chudley (Lane 65); Chilvers (Southworth 62), Poole (Stewart 62), Salt (Nairau 48); Tyas, Nkwocha (Anstey 62); Ryan (Ball 50), Kvesic, Nayalo (Bartlett 70)

Referee: Jonathan Cook

Attendance: 1183