More than 1000 people gathered for the first of 3 ‘Gift to the community’ matches at Butts Park Arena as a Coventry side, mixed with an exciting blend of youth and experience took on the UK Armed Forces on a deceptively bitter Friday evening.
It didn’t take long for the Butts Park crowd to rise to its feet as Coventry starting Hooker, Owen Postlethwaite, benefited from a dominant driving maul inside the first 5 minutes before fullback, Tobi Wilson, added the following extras with a helping hand from the left-side upright. (7-0)
Coventry threatened the UKAF line, but to no avail on multiple occasions over the next period of the match. That was until a delicious break from Tobi Wilson after some hot potato in midfield. Wilson was brought down just inches from the line, denying him a fantastic solo score. Joe Snow was however on hand to feed George Smith, who could not be stopped from close range. (12-0).
The attacking play was starting to flow as the men in blue and white had perhaps overcome some early game nerves that can accompany a bumper BPA crowd. Having moved through the phases patiently, Cov spun the ball wide to find Swiss international, George Hallam, who crossed in the corner to extend the home side’s lead to 17-0.
With 10 minutes left on the clock in the first half, the crowd were witness to a delightful piece of skill from none other than second row, George Smith. The large lock gathered the ball on halfway before selling a convincing dummy and lifting the ball over the oncoming defender’s head to find Joe Snow. The number 9 had no issues in running the ball home and adding his name to the scoresheet. (24-0).
The home side were in no mood to slow down as James Bennett was the next to add his name to the growing list of try scorers. This time a series of strong pick and go’s led to the score. Cov made it two in two minutes as the young side journeyed from one end of the pitch to the other in a swift manor, before a smart Tobi Wilson probing kick found Raymond Kanyasa to crash his way over the try line. (36-0)
The Cov forwards managed to squeeze in a final score before the half time whistle, through yet another dominant driving maul. Ray Kanyasa doubled his tally for the evening as the two sides ran in to the sheds with the half time score reading Coventry 43-0 UKAF.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the way in which the first ended. A strong Coventry scrum left James Bennett with only a few metres to cover before he could dot down and open the Cov account for the second period. (48-0).
The UKAF defence was far more stubborn post the half time team talk, and it took the Cov attack a long while to breakdown the servicemen. Gaps eventually began to reappear amongst the maroon shirts before high-flyer, David Opoku raced to the try line and took Cov over the 50-point mark. (53-0)
One of the loudest cheers of the night came on the 65-minute mark as the away side scored their first of the night. Some patient and well-constructed build-up play left enough space in the Coventry defence for the UKAF forwards to burrow over for a crowd-pleasing try.
The youthful and naturally competitive Cov side were not about to let the tide turn completely as Christian Bannister scored almost instantaneously off the restart. (58-5).
A brave UK Armed Forces side kept on coming and bagged a second try for their efforts with 5 minutes left on the clock. A clinical counterattack from a somewhat weak Coventry clearance meant the men in maroon could celebrate their second score of the evening. (58-12).
The back-and-forth nature of the second half continued as Ray Kanyasa completed his hattrick off the back off a series of close-range pick and go’s. (65-12).
The final whistle blew, and an entertaining game came to a close. We look forward to seeing you all next Wednesday as we take on the RAF in the second of our Free Admission fixtures.
Final score: 65-12.