ROB WEBBER is wary of a Coventry side that gave his Jersey Reds players a ‘walloping’ last season, as the clubs prepare to trade blows in the Championship Cup semi-finals.
The Islanders claimed home and away league wins over the Midlands-outfit in 2021/22 but the head coach still sees warning signs, following last May’s 34-10 defeat at St Peter and their rivals’ recent cup run.
Coventry, who visit on Friday night [7pm kick-off] ended the league campaign down in eighth but have played the aggregate-scoring system well in the cup – edging past Ampthill in the first round before outscoring season-long promotion hopefuls Doncaster Knights over two legs in the quarter-finals.
The Reds ended up coasting into the last-four with a 30-14 win against Hartpury last Friday but their progress came at a price. Four of the starting XV from that encounter are now ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
Tim Grey and Eoghan Clarke both suffered serious ankle-ligament damage while James Elliott fractured his collar bone. Sean O’Connor, who was sent off for dangerous play in a ruck, has been handed a four-week ban.
‘It has been challenging having them out injured,’ said Webber. ‘We are missing quality players and it’s tough to see those guys, who have worked really hard, out injured. Everyone wants to play in these big games so you do feel for them. Sean is included in that after getting a red through no intent or malice. It’s just the letter of the law and we have to wear these things.’
He added: ‘The league is the league and the cup is the cup. The teams approach it in certain ways; Coventry have been up for it and have got their results and they will be a very tricky team to play in the semi-final. They came here this time last year and gave us a good walloping, so we have to prepare appropriately.’
Webber also hopes that the club’s professionals will set out a positive stall ahead of Saturday’s inter-insular triple-header at Stade Santander.
‘These occasions are what makes rugby so special. We as the Reds are excited for the Siam Cup, just as much as I’m sure Athletic will be excited for our semi-final.’