On an evening surrounded by great sadness, following the tragic news of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; a respectful continuation of sport took place at Butts Park Arena.
Following the guidance from the Rugby Football Union, our 2022/23 Championship opener took place as scheduled under the Friday Night Lights of the BPA. The evening began with a touching tribute to the late Queen of England as the crowd joined in both voice and silence prior to kick off. The national Anthem, followed by a minute of silence took place allowing Coventry and Bedford supporters alike to unite and pay their respects.
The game kicked off as the sun started to set, but unfortunately it began disastrously from a Coventry point of view. Bedford forced a short kick, which was followed by some ‘hot potato’ hands in the middle of the park. The ball fell to last person you’d wish it to (unless you’re a Bedford supporter), as Dean Adamson raced to the corner to score inside the opening minute. Former Cov player, Will Maisey, was agonisingly close with the conversion, but it strayed to the right of the posts. (0-5)
Coventry responded brilliantly to the delight of the home crowd. A series of Bedford infringements and Coventry driving mauls looked promising, however a penalty awarded to the away side, almost inches from the line released the pressure that had been building nicely.
The temperature inside the stadium as well as the pace of the match began to drop slightly as we reached the 10-minute mark. Bedford then took their turn to dominate the driving maul. Cov defended bravely inside their 22m for close to 5 minutes, before managing to exit and force a knock on from the Blues in midfield, giving the BPA crowd the lift they were after.
With a quarter of the game gone, Cov were looking good in the scrum – but were adjudged to have infringed as they marched forward. This gave Maisey the chance to extend Bedford’s lead from roughly 42m out, which the Bedford 10 took happily. (0-8)
Cov looked close to scoring once again as they camped inside the Bedford 22 for quite some time. Another promising period of attack was brought to a halt as Bedford managed a turnover just a couple metres out from their line. However, an excellent George Smith charge down gave possession back to the home team. The forwards needed no second invitation to make the Blues pay for failing to clear their lines – as the driving maul marched over for captain, Jordon Poole to score our first try of the 2022/23 Championship campaign. Pat Pellegrini landed the extras, leaving the score at 7-8.
History repeated itself as another maul looked like it was heading for the try line, however a Bedford infringement put a pause on proceedings, and Alex Woolford was sent to the bin for 10 minutes for the visiting team. The numerical advantage paid dividends shortly after as yet another driving maul was brought down illegally, and Cov were awarded a penalty try on the stroke of half time. (HT: 14-8)
Coventry’s second half started nearly in stark contrast to the first, as great defensive pressure forced a penalty in midfield, which resulted in Louis Brown’s left boot placing us inside Bedford territory. There was a false start as Cov were disallowed what would have been a beautiful score due to a pass that drifted marginally forward. However, a quick tap and go shortly after gave Coventry and Jordon Poole their second of the night. (19-8)
Cov were in no mood to let their feet off the gas, as more penalties were awarded deep inside the Bedford half. After a long period of pressure, Suva Ma’asi burrowed his way over not long after he joined the match. Pellegrini grabbed the extra two as Cov extended their lead. (26-8).
Bedford Blues are not a team known to give up on any game. Alex Woolford promptly responded for the visitors having returned from the bin to tighten things up at 26-13. This came almost in the blink of an eye, which is the danger that accompanies playing a side with the attacking firepower that Bedford possess.
Bedford followed that score with another soon after as Jack Hughes dotted down after a virtually unstoppable driving maul. A tricky conversion was narrowly missed meaning the last few minutes were set to be an extremely tight affair. (26-18)
Fortunately, from a Coventry point of view, 26-18 was how things remained, as we were victorious in our Championship campaign opener. We look forward to welcoming you all to Butts Park later this month, as we face Ampthill on Saturday 24th September at 3pm.