Plenty took to Butts Park Arena to bear witness to the second of three, free
admission, ‘Gift to the Community’ matches here at Coventry Rugby. On a
drizzly Wednesday evening, the Royal Air Force Rugby Union team landed to
face a Coventry side mixed with a gentle blend of exciting youth and reliable
The opening exchanges of the match very much belonged to the servicemen.
After launching a dangerous maul deep inside Coventry territory, the away side
linked up in the wide channels with some neat handling before the RAF
captain, Isaac Norton, dotted down for the opening score of the game inside
the first 5 minutes of the contest. (7-0)
The Royal Air Force continued to display their dominance upfront with another
driving maul. As the Cov defence narrowed, fly half Jordan Oatley found Toby
Evans with a clever cross-field-kick to score the away side’s second. Cov
responded and responded immediately as Tobi Wilson climbed high into the
Warwickshire sky to gather the high ball, before pinning his ears back to race
to the try line virtually untouched. (5-12)
Despite a stubborn Coventry defence, the difference in weight between the
two forward packs took its toll as the RAF continued to pile on the pressure at
scrum time. A set piece close to the Cov line travelled in the wrong direction,
from a Coventry point of view, before the ball was leapt on for a third RAF try
with a quarter of the game gone. (5-19)
The game began to open up which suited the young side in Blue and White,
however, another scrum in a dangerous position led to another 7-point
addition to the RAF scoreboard tally. This time the referee ran towards the
sticks to award a penalty try, and sent Coventry skipper, Ollie Stone, to spend
10 minutes in the sin bin. (5-26)
Tries stemming from the scrum were starting to become the pattern of the
contest, as on this occasion the ball squirted out of a 7-man Coventry pack
before a fly-hack into the dead ball area was pounced upon by the RAF on the
stroke of half time to make the score at the end of the first period 5-33.
HALF TIME: 5-33
The second half began in almost identical fashion to the way in which the first half
ended. An RAF scrum began to travel in the direction of the Coventry tryline
before number 8 Sam Breeze dove on the loose ball to continue the away
side’s quick scoring habits. The RAF made it two in two minutes as Cov looked to mount an attack of their own, before an intercept in midfield allowed Tom
Winidbank to jog home on the 46-minute mark. (5-47)
The BPA crowd then rose to their feet with half an hour left to play. Good
footwork from David Opoku took Cov inside the RAF half before he found
Harry Stone, who showed a blistering turn of pace to score and reduce the
deficit to 10-47.
The pace of the young Coventry side continued to shine through as another home
score had the BPA crowd in full voice just minutes later. Freddie Painter raced
from one end of the 4G pitch to the other in the blink of an eye, which created
the required gap in the now stressed RAF defence for Harry Stone to grab his second.
Just as Coventry were building momentum in both their on-field play and on
the scoreboard, the RAF struck with a break away score to silence a crowd that
had also been growing in excitement. After a scintillating break from midfield,
a smart offload enabled the away side to go over for another score and put the
game out of reach for a brave Cov squad. (17-54)
The tide had well and truly swung back in the way of the RAF, as another
counter-attack try made the scoreboard a tough read for the Cov fans in
attendance, as the servicemen led 17-59 with 10 minutes left to play.
The RAF crept over the 60-point mark shortly after, following a quick tap-and-go
that took the young Cov side by surprise, for what would prove to be the final score of the evening.
FULL TIME: Coventry 17-66 RAF
Thank you to all the home supporters that came out to the game, as well as to our visitors from the Royal Air Force. We look forward to welcoming you back to the BPA on the 4th March, in our return to the league schedule against London Scottish.