The sun was glistening off the Butts Park pitch ahead of kick off, before Coventry’s Championship Round 3 match against Ampthill. Rae’s men were looking to bounce back from a difficult day in Jersey a week ago and improve on a 50% win ratio after the first two encounters of the season.
There was a hiccup before the first whistle, as Josh Bainbridge was forced to withdraw from proceedings due to injury. Toby Trinder stepped into the captain’s role for the hurt Bainbridge, as Tom Ball shifted to a starting position, with Will Wand coming on to the bench.
The match began with some ferocious Coventry defence, as Ampthill went through the phases with ball in hand. Toby Trinder’s first contribution as skipper was winning a vital turnover in the Cov 22 to relieve early pressure inside the opening minutes.
Ampthill continued their early pressure as the number of tackles that Coventry were making within the early exchanges began to mount up and take its toll. After the Ampthill forwards had made their dent, good hands to get the ball wide to Blackmore, who had been holding the width, allowed the openside to open the scoring for the away team. Ampthill fly-half, Gwyn Parks landed the extras. (0-7)
The visitors swiftly followed their first score with a second. After a handful of penalty offences notching up for Cov, Ampthill kicked themselves deep in to the railway corner of Butts Park Arena before a rolling maul was too good to be stopped as Blackmore and Parks scored their second try and conversion respectively. (0-14)
Coventry were struggling to get a foothold in the game as we approached the half hour mark. The BPA crowd then witnessed the moment of the half – unfortunately (from a Cov perspective) it was a third Ampthill try. After some hot potato in midfield, Ben Cambriani put in a delicate chip and chase down his left-hand side wing before diving on the loose ball to score. (0-19)
Coventry responded immediately – as they had to. Cov took charge of possession in the Ampthill 22 for the first time in the match, and playing with free ball, Will Lane dived over from short range, much to the home crowd’s delight and relief. Mitchell landed the extras before sprinting back to receive the kick-off. (7-19)
The BPA was brought to its feet by what happened next as Cov raced from one end of the field to the other. A break from Louis Brown took us from our own 22 to well inside the Ampthill half, the fullback then found Will Rigg, who made it to the corner to touch down on his Championship debut just before the end of the first period.
Half time: 12-19
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first, with an Ampthill try scored by the Hooker, Theo Dan within a matter of minutes from the restart. After winning a penalty inside the Cov 22, the away side reacted quicker than the home to score from a quick tap and sprint to the line. (12-24)
Coventry refused to lay down and started to mount some second half pressure themselves. After a series of Ampthill infringements close to their own line, and playing with the advantage, the ball was flung wide to Ollie Betteridge, who managed to wrestle his way over to score on what was also his Championship debut. Mitchell’s conversion was successful, and things were looking close with 30 minutes to play. (19-24)
The Cov pressure wasn’t letting up! More Ampthill penalties lead to a sin bin for Theo Dan. Growing in confidence, the Coventry backline were getting their hands on the ball more and more before some excellent footwork from new-to-the-field Pat Pellegrini. The replacement fly-half then fed Will Talbot-Davies to dive over the try line. Pellegrini followed his neat feet with a successful conversion as we took the lead for the first time in the encounter. (26-24)
Cov looked certain to add to their tally shortly after, but were halted by some heroic defence by Ampthill virtually on their try line. The game took its first ‘breather’ as the frantic pace of the match slowed momentarily heading in to the final 10 minutes.
As the game reached the business end, Coventry pointed to the sticks after Ampthill were caught offside chasing their own kick. Rain began to pour down on what had previously been a lovely day, as Pat Pellegrini just shaved the posts, leaving the score as it was.
Fortunately, from a home perspective, the final whistle came with no change to the score line, and Coventry took the spoils in a thriller. Full time: 26-24.
We look forward to seeing you all back here at Butts Park Arena for a mouth-watering clash against last season’s Champions Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday 1st October – Kick off 3pm.