Club talk

Hull Ionians – forwards not backwards…

hullTwelve months ago the Birmingham school I was working in was embroiled in the alleged Trojan Horse plot and I was seeing out my notice until  December, having worked there for over 31 years. The fall-out was huge, and is still making the lives of those involved, both teachers, staff and pupils, extremely difficult. The school went from it’s fifth consecutive outstanding in June 2014 to inadequate in January of this year and is now in special measures where it will remain for sometime yet. What is happening in schools in Birmingham is a disgrace; I’m sure the truth will out one day.

I mention this only because I have learned, albeit a little late in life, to be very wary of Greeks bearing gifts, of Trojan horses. We play Hull Ionians next week and the Ionians were originally Greeks, one of four great tribes that made up the Greek nation. Any team that names themselves thus needs to be treated with caution. We certainly won’t be gifted five points by Hull, of that I’m certain. The visit up north will be a battling, bruising encounter and they are fifth in the league, one place and one point above us, for a reason. Reading through the reports of the games so far this season, it seems that their strength is very much in their forwards…and their style of play certainly disgruntled Fylde supporters last weekend. On Rolling-maul.com comments such as:

Are we to accept the juggernaut strategy that smothers creative rugby? 4 mauled tries and 1 penalty try vs 4 tries from open play speaks volumes.

and:
Hull I’s were very effective but intensely boring that (sic) will send crowds away in droves! A sad day for rugby I’m afraid, harking back to the bad old days.
suggest two things, sour grapes on the part of Fylde supporters and a style of play from Hull that’s based mainly on the strength of their forwards. To be fair to Fylde, they play a most expansive style of rugby, seemingly running everything, even from their own 22, but that doesn’t make it any better than a forward dominated approach, just a bit more entertaining. And I’ve watched Fylde self-destruct on a couple of occasions because they have been unable to play any other way. All very well when you win…but when you lose, well, see above…
All credit to Hull as far as I’m concerned, you do what needs to be done to win your games, especially when away from home. It would be hypocritical of me to say otherwise having delighted in the number of pushover tries someone like Graham Robbins used to get for Cov back in the day. If I’d travelled to Fylde, seen my team score 38 points beating a team fancied to do well in the league this season, achieving the bonus point in the process, then I’d be happy.
All this is secondary to the main point of the post. Hull are a force to be reckoned with this year and clearly, at home, they will be even more of a challenge.
Below is a clip of their last minute try against Fylde to clinch victory…the cameraman obviously joins in the celebrations!

But it is a challenge that Coventry are more than equal to… and I do believe that we can come away with a win and four points at least, provided we do the basics right. We certainly didn’t allow the Plymouth pack to dominate in the way the we did against Richmond and Hartpury and thankfully the driving maul and the catch and drive to which we have been susceptible all season, weren’t a factor at all. And no yellow cards.

Results went very much our way at the weekend and players must feel that they have turned things around a little now. I’m sure the coaching staff will drill home the need to avoid any complacency and treat Hull with the utmost respect that they are indeed entitled to , but also that the squad should go up to Hull knowing that they have the ability to beat any team in the league, home or away. With key players returning from injury, selection shouldn’t be quite such a problem, depending on the severity of the knocks we picked up on Saturday. It’s probably a question of horses for courses at Hull (but not those of the Trojan variety), trying to negate the impact of their pack and freeing up our packs to cause havoc as we know they can. Team selection will be really interesting on Saturday. Is James Tincknell fit to resume in the centre? And what about Knoxy? Has Jacques Le Roux done enough to gain a starting place and will Caolan Ryan remain at full-back?

One player I didn’t mention in the previous post was Ben Thomas, not indeed have I seen his name in other comments about the game. I was really impressed with him in the loose. For a big man, and he is big, he covered a lot of the pitch and seemed to be involved in much that was happening. A really good debut on his part…his pairing with Tom Poole could be very effective and with Courtney Roberts available, there’s more choice in the second row than we’ve had for a long time. Any news of Martin Wolfenden, I wonder…with his return to fitness there will be real competition for places.

I remain, as always, confident that we will do what needs to be done against Hull. And if we score 5 tries, all from close range and all from the forwards, then I’ll be ecstatic.

And for me, it’s time to put my own, personal,Trojan Horse firmly back into its stable.

4 replies »

    • I’m not convinced that ‘parking the bus’ is the right approach for 80 minutes, that’s asking a lot of any defence, especially if Hull are as strong up front as results might suggest. I mixture of the two I guess, with the backs capitalising on quick ball and the Hull back row tied up defending the various phases of possession we can put together…hopefully.

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  1. Tim looking at Hull’s points for and against columns, there does not seem to be a great difference in the Hull approach. Can score, but defence not too strong, or at least a little porous. It depends which Cov turns up on the day. Which will it be?

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    • Hi Paul, reading some of the reports of previous Hull games, I think the manner in which they score their points is different – invariably stemming from the pack or as a result of the dominance of the forwards, whilst we have more options in the backs (even if Matt Price is our leading try scorer!).

      You’re absolutely right, it’s down to Cov’s commitment on the day…if the intensity is high then I’d back us, if not…oh dear….

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