FIVE points, six tries, a 21st win of the season – but perhaps the best statistic from the victory over Cambridge was a zero penalty count against Coventry in the second half.
It certainly told a story, underlining how the ground work put in by Cov in the first half against committed opponents paid off over the course of the full 80 minutes with Cambridge’s second-half penalty count going into double figures.
It was a satisfying end product for defence coach and No.8, Luke Narraway.
“Especially in defence we try to limit the amount of situations where we could get pinged,” he said.
“If you don’t give away cheap penalties then you don’t concede territory, and that’s the name of the game.
“Cambridge battled really hard and their set piece was good in the first half, but I think that with the pressure we put on them they tired a bit in the second half and our set piece became notably dominant which, obviously, is nice to play off the back of. To finish that way was nice.
“It was a very good performance by us. Cambridge were a good side and whatever the scoreline says, they really hung in there.
“They attacked the breakdown and we made a mess of that, but overall I think that when we were on point in attack we looked threatening.
“When we got in behind and got the gain line ball, our inside or outside backs were very, very dangerous as they have been all season.”
After two home performances influenced by the wet, muddy nature of the pitch, the side enjoyed Saturday’s improved underfoot conditions and a return to form after a dip at Loughborough Students a week earlier..
“Having the pitch a little bit firmer and the sun on our backs allowed us to play a little bit more rugby which is what we like to do, and it was nice to get the ball moving,” said Narraway.
“Last week at Loughborough wasn’t the performance we wanted, but it was five points and we learn and move on.
“Whether it’s football, cricket, rugby or whatever sport, if you aim to be a good side then you’ve got to find ways of winning when you’re not playing very well and I think last week that was exactly it. Our energy and our intensity were off by 10 or 20 per cent, and when you do that you make things hard for yourself.
“There’s not many blades of grass left on our pitch, but it was nice to play on. It didn’t cut up as much as I thought it would and, hopefully, another week of bit better weather and a bit of protection will keep it that way.
“Of course the conditions make a difference to the way you approach a game. Rugby is one of those sports where there are so many variables from week to week.
“If you look at football, for instance, the weather doesn’t massively change the way that you have to play – if it rains it potentially speeds up the pass of the ball, whereas in rugby when it’s wet or boggy it makes it difficult to play the rugby that we like to play.
“But, also, we pride ourselves on being able to play different ways because in a long season over eight months the British winter can throw anything at you.
“In the last couple of home games before Cambridge we’d had to tuck the ball up our jumpers, keep it a little bit tighter and kick a little bit more, and get our energy into the game through kick and chase.”
With Cov’s lead in National League One now up to 21 points, how do they handle expectation and the inevitable talk of champion elect?
Said Narraway: “Nick Walshe brought up something that Pep Guardiola had said the other week.
“He obviously gets a lot of questions about Manchester City being top of the league by so many points and the title race being over. I think he said ‘It is still to be done, we will defend our position game by game.’
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to do – we go out each week trying to get maximum points and trying to defend our position until, hopefully, we can get our hands on some silverware.”