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Pacy scrum-half Toby Venner marked his first start in Coventry colours with a sparkling hat-trick as Alex Rae’s team extended their winning run to five games with a ten-try demolition of Cambridge.

The blue-and-whites banked the try bonus point after 32 minutes, scored a fifth try before the break then went on to double their try tally in a second half which saw the whole of Cov’s bench enjoy plenty of game time.

Cambridge started best with some good interplay between Morgan Veness and Tom Hoppe sending winger Matt Williams racing down the right.

However, it was the hosts who were first on the scoreboard through recent arrival Venner who forced his way over from close range after his forwards made good progress in support of Pat Pellegrini’s break.

Cov’s scrum-half soon doubled his tally in blue-and-white when he showed an impressive turn of foot from 40 metres after Tiki Nayalo held the ball up cleverly at the base of a wheeling scrum.

After Pellegrini added the extras, James Tyas then broke through midfield and seemed likely to claim a popular score only for a fine last-ditch tackle to halt his progress.

But Cov’s front five did soon get a name on the scoresheet when prop Eliot Salt went under the posts for his second try of the season – again upgraded by Pellegrini – following some neat interplay between Tyas and Nayalo.

A long spell of Cambridge continuity ended with Hoppe sending Williams down the right touchline before he was swallowed up by the cover.

Cov skipper Jordon Poole registered his team’s bonus point try shortly after the half-hour mark when he applied the finishing touch to a powerful lineout drive which followed a fine Pellegrini touch-finder.

And after Cov’s Tongan no.10 maintained his 100 per cent record from the tee the home side claimed a fifth first-half score when centre Tom Hitchcock scooped up a loose ball one-handed and raced 35 metres to the posts.

Eliot Salt scored Cov’s third try against Cambridge (credit: John Coles)

Cov were quickly back into their stride following the restart and when Pellegrini snapped up a loose ball at the tail of the lineout and raced 50 metres to deep inside the Cambridge 22, Venner got on his shoulder to complete his hat-trick.

Hitchcock then claimed his second of the night and third in four Cov starts when he got on the end of a move in which Ryan Hutler initially seemed certain to score down the right before play broke down and some slick handling saw the attack switched to the other flank.

Both sides introduced a flood of replacements around the hour mark before Cambridge’s pack shunted skipper George Bretag-Norris over from a close-range lineout for a try which Steffan James converted.

Will Wand continued his fine form in Cov’s no.13 shirt and he claimed his team’s 100th try of the season in support of Tom Ball’s break after Cambridge lost the ball in the tackle inside the Cov half.

After Evan Mitchell added the extras Cambridge added a second driving lineout try through replacement hooker Archie Vanes before Cov sent a good-sized crowd home happy with two late scores.

Replacement full back Tobi Wilson claimed the first of these when he picked off an ambitious Cambridge cross-kick before the deserving Martin sprinted 80 metres to the visitors’ posts to claim Cov’s tenth touchdown of the night.


Coventry: Mitchell; Hutler (Opoku 51), Wand, Hitchcock, Martin; Pellegrini (Wilson 66), Venner (Chudley 51); Trinder (Nairau 51), Poole (Ma’asi 40), Salt (Andrews 51 ); Tyas, Nkwocha; Ball, Kvesic (Anstey 54), Nayalo (Owen 40)

Cambridge: Tarrant; Williams (Rayner 65), Hoppe, Hanks, Caven; James, Edwards (Duffin 65); Ellwood (Owen 55), Veness (Vanes 55), Walker (Collins 55); Frost (Waring 71), Bretag-Norris; Adams (Sloot 54), Cardew, Dawson (Brownlie 65).

Referee: Hamish Grant

Attendance: 2964

Half-time: Coventry 33-0 Cambridge


Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Venner (4) (22) (41), Salt (28) Poole (32), Hitchcock (38) (49), Wand (68), Wilson (76), Martin (78)

Cons: Pellegrini (4) (22) (28) (32) (41), Mitchell (68) (78)


Tries: Bretag-Norris (58), Vanes (70)

Cons: James (58)