19 — 21
Marker Duly Laid Down…Those of a negative mindset will observe this was a defeat, albeit a close run thing. Yet when the match was previewed in these pages mention was made of our opportunity to ‘lay down a marker’. Job done! These first three encounters have seen Gavin Hogg’s men achieve the incremental improvement he has promised and they may consider themselves a tad unlucky to collect just one league point last Saturday.
Coventry just deserved the honours in this hard-nosed battle but were full of praise for gallant opponents whose scrum tore into the midlanders certainly for the first hour of the contest. One visiting lock declared Albanians to be the hardest scrummagers he’d met in a year! High accolade from a club renowned for its tight play above all else.
Both sides coped well with the changeable weather and the large crowd enjoyed a dramatic afternoon as the lead changed hands four times. There could have been an early mishap when the Cov kickoff slipped out of Albanian grasp and the visitors sped for the far left corner. There they conceded the first of fifteen penalties, this one allowing the excellent Dan Watt to clear the danger.
The lively Coventry backs were not to be denied however and Heath Stevens found the gap with ten minutes gone, Will Maisey converting. This score was immediately matched when the OA pack made a better fist of their own restart and charged to the Cov line where Tadgh McElroy treated himself to the touchdown. Watt converted well and put Albanians into the lead eight minutes later with a penalty following another visiting indiscretion.
Albanians were losing nothing in the tight and the visiting eight were shoved back often enough to surprise both sets of supporters. OA morale rose commensurately and there seemed a certain buccaneering element to the home side’s efforts, all helped along by plenty of decent possession.
Play ranged the length of the field in this second quarter but it was flier Robert Knox who gave Coventry back the lead, aided again by Maisey and, though Watt rifled over another skilful penalty, his side were one point short at the break.
The centre obliged once more five minutes after the restart with his fourth successful kick and, for a while, local thoughts turned to the possibility of a famous victory. Maisey had other ideas, however, and the lead changed for the final time when he converted his own try ten minutes before the hour.
Still Watt toiled manfully and notched his fourth penalty with sixty minutes gone and the final quarter to play. The arrival of Luke Narraway had stiffened the Cov forward resolve just after half time and this helped to repel final, desperate Albanian assaults but visiting jitters were palpable when Watt lined up once more from long range with ten minutes to go. The ball shaved the left upright and A’s did not get that close again.
This exciting tie bodes well for the Woollams squad. After the match Gavin Hogg said how pleased he was with the promised improvements and how proud he was of the squad in general. “We are a young side with tremendous potential” he said. “We came very close to beating one of the strongest teams in our League. Good things will happen in the next weeks!”
Hull Ionians next week.
Press & Publicity
Today’s Ball Boys are the U11s
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Coventry RFC – BackgroundCoventry Rugby Club was originally formed in 1874, with the first organised match being half Rugby rules & half Association – the RFU had of course only been formed some three years earlier. It was played at the Old Bull Fields, and when part of it was enclosed it became known as The Butts, where the first match was played in 1880.
Several other venues were used over the ensuing years, during which time the Club lost the use of the Butts during the first World War, before in 1921 the move was made to Coundon Road. The venue became one of the most well known & iconic venues in Rugby Union circles over the next 83 years or so, hosting many important Representative matches, before the move was made at the beginning of the 2004/5 season to the Butts Park Arena. Effectively Coventry Rugby Club had moved full circle, although the current pitch is positioned at a different angle one understands to the old one. ‘Cov’ have been playing their rugby in National League One since the beginning of the 2010/ 11 season following relegation from the Championship, but under the guidance of the current Board Members who have overseen the fortunes of the club since the financial difficulties of 2010, the club have strong ambitions to achieve promotion back.
|Old Albanian Sports Club, 160 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BB, UK|