Familiar foes, Bedford Blues, came to town for a tasty cup clash in which there was all to play for home and away side alike. Both sides headed into the contest knowing that the other can pose a considerable threat with ball-in-hand, making for an enjoyable watch.
After a rather nervy opening, Cov managed to etch themselves on to the scoresheet first. Following a clever looping pass from Evan Mitchell to unlock the Blues defence, Cov went through some patient build up play before Suva Ma’asi continued his rich vein of scoring form as he burrowed his way over the try line. Mitchell landed the extras to make it 7-0 after 10 minutes.
Coventry looked set to double their try tally in the following moments as the home side went through their attacking sets, only to be denied by a stubborn Bedford defence.
Coventry were only to be frustrated for so long, as a scintillating line ran by Lucas Titherington created the momentum for Suva Ma’asi to dot down in the corner for his, and the team’s second. If the try didn’t have the crown on its feet, then the following touchline conversion from Evan Mitchell certainly did. (14-0)
Bedford are not a side to fail at firing shots of their own in an attacking sense. The dangerous Jake Garside had looked troublesome from minute one and managed to run a clever support line to open the account for the visitors on the 30-minute mark. (14-5)
The entire Butts Park crowd went through the whole spectrum of emotion in the next few minutes. Bedford looked sure to follow their opening try with a second as Matt Worley raced down the wing, only to be caught by a determined Shea Cornish. Blues reloaded in attack, but as they spun the ball wide, Tobi Wilson plucked the ball out of the Coventry air to intercept and cruise home for his second try in as many appearances for the Cov. (21-5)
21-5 was looking likely to be the half time score, but Cov’s captain, Tom Ball, had other ideas. A lovely bit of link-up play between the two centres created the space for Will Rigg to run in to and get an audacious offload away before Tom Ball demonstrated his footwork to score in the corner. Mitchell couldn’t maintain his 100% record from the tee, but Cov went into the sheds with a healthy lead of 26-5.
Despite a bright start to the second period from the home side, it was Bedford who scored the opening points after the break. After moving the ball wide, Sean French placed a clever kick behind Cov’s defensive line for the electric Jake Garside to gather and score his second of the day. Grimoldby landed the conversion to make the score 26-12.
Both sides came close to adding to their tallies but were let down by handling errors in key areas of the pitch. The next try scorer was in fact the referee as Cov demonstrated real dominance in the driving maul, that could only be brought down illegally by the Blues. (33-12)
Blues responded, as they so often do with some strength up-front of their own. Will Maisey, on his return to Butts Park, put his side deep in Coventry territory before Jack Hughes pulled off an impressive acrobatic finish to make for a tense final quarter of an hour with the home side’s lead reduced to 33-19.
Despite every effort to offload some of the pressure being mounted by Bedford, Cov couldn’t quite exit their 22m effectively, and the Blues mounted another attack. Another quite remarkable finish took place, this time right in the corner of the pitch as winger, Sean French, landed the 5-pointer. Maisey was unsuccessful with his conversion as the scoreboard showed 33-24 with a few minutes remaining. After a final threatening Bedford attack, Cov won a huge turnover penalty, and the referee blew the full-time whistle.
FULL TIME: Coventry 33-24 Bedford Blues
Thank you to all the home supporters that came out to the game, as well as to our visitors from Bedford. We look forward to welcoming you back to the BPA on the 24th February, in our Gift to the Community game against the Combined Services.