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Coventry Rugby 34-6 Ampthill

A second half display oozing confidence saw Coventry to an emphatic 34-6 bonus point home win over Ampthill.

Cov scored four of their five tries after the break and with Pat Pellegrini tagging on a penalty and three conversions they pulled clear of an Ampthill side who held an unlikely one-point interval advantage.

Flying winger Jimmy Martin grabbed the headlines by claiming two of these scores before being narrowly denied a hat-trick by the touch judge’s flag.

But it was the creative contributions of outstanding full back Tobi Wilson, veteran scrum half Will Chudley and impish fly half Pat Pellegrini plus the incisive running of centre Will Wand that really caught the eye.

Twenty-nine unanswered points was a fine response from a home side whose stuttering first-half effort looked anxious and at times lacked patience.

During the opening 40 minutes Cov were their own worst enemies by not only converting only one of five scoring chances but also conceding penalties at an alarming rate.

But once Martin and Jordon Poole crossed in the opening six minutes of the second period the hosts visibly relaxed and as a result found the tempo and clinical edge which – at their best – makes them such a threat.

Having avenged their November defeat in Bedfordshire, Cov now go into a challenging fortnight against Doncaster and table-topping Ealing in good heart and with high hopes of repeating or improving on last season’s third-place finish.

The blue-and-whites began at a scorching pace and when Matt Kvesic got on Pellegrini’s shoulder some slick handling allowed Wilson to force his way into the corner for the opening try.

Ryan Hutler then went close to beating the defence to his own chip before Pellegrini was wide with a 30-metre penalty attempt.

With Cov increasingly on the wrong end of referee Dan Jones’ whistle Ampthill came into the game as an attacking force during the second quarter.

And the resulting territory gained enabled fly half Gwyn Parks to give the visitors a slender advantage with two simple penalties.

Cov then failed to convert a long spell in the visitors’ 22 into points when first their lineout was turned over then Martin narrowly failed to squeeze in the corner.

Pat Pellegrini in action against Ampthill (pic: John Coles)

This left the hosts trailing by a point as they turned to attack the Butts Park end – but within six minutes the contest was turned on its head.

Wilson’s beautifully-balanced counter and well-timed pass sent Martin racing to the corner for a try which Pellegrini improved almost immediately following the restart.

Cov promptly then kicked to the corner from where their pack shunted captain Poole over for his seventh try of the campaign – again upgraded by their Tongan international fly half.

When Pellegrini then tagged on a simple penalty Alex Rae’s team had a two-score advantage at the hour mark.

And the hosts soon clinched a bonus point with a try-of-the-season contender. It was begun by league debutant Chester Owen’s break from inside his own 22 and finished some 20 passes later when Pellegrini’s floated overhead allowed Martin to stroll to the visitors’ line.

Martin narrowly failed to complete a personal three-timer when he put a foot in touch after recovering Evan Mitchell’s perfectly-weighted cross-kick.

This meant the impressive Wand – who was subsequently named as man-of-the-match – had the last word when he stepped through Ampthill’s midfield and cruised to their posts from 40 metres.


Coventry Rugby: Wilson (Mitchell 52); Hutler, Wand, Hitchcock, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley (Lane 63); Chilvers (Trinder 13), Poole (Biggs 55), Nicol (Nairau 55); Tyas, Nkwocha (Owen 52); Ryan (Ball 55), Kvesic (Bartlett 63), Nayalo.

Ampthill: Bacon; Moore, Morris (Smart 44), Strachan, Harris (Barton 40); Parks, White (Bracken 51); Hardman (Nearchou 42) (Warren 43-57), Adejimi (Cutting 71), Johnston (Warren,59); Peard (Wardell 51), Evans; Shenton (Skelcey 70), Moore-Aiono, Strong.

Referee: Dan Jones

Attendance: 2507

Half-time: Coventry Rugby 5-6 Ampthill