What a difference a day makes…..
I really, really rate Scott Morgan as a Head Coach. It was a brave call to appoint him as first player coach and then Head Coach given his lack of experience (although I presume you have to take your badges as you do in football). I think he’s growing into the role with every passing season. He’ll be coaching a club in a higher league to ours in the years to come. I just hope it’s Coventry.
Given my obvious support of Scott then, I was momentarily unnerved last week by the headline of an article in the Coventry Evening Telegraph that read, ‘Scott Morgan baffled by Coventry RFC’s under-par performance at Richmond’ followed by an opening paragraph that included the sentence, ‘Head coach Scott Morgan admitted that Coventry’s loss of form is a real cause for concern after their 31-7 defeat at Richmond.’
I was ‘unnerved’ in the sense that this is exactly what you don’t want to hear your Head Coach say following a poor performance and I thought he would have avoided looking to be at such a loss to explain the defeat and more importantly be keen to state his intention to put things right. However, I shouldn’t have worried…
…further on in the same article, Scott went on to say, ‘If we’d kept hold of the ball and gone forward we wouldn’t have been in the position we were in the first half, and again we gave away stupid penalties all over the park’, an indication that perhaps the opening comments were more about his frustration as a coach seeing such a good side, well-prepared as I’m sure they were, under-perform as badly as they did, rather than an inability to do anything about it. Panic over Scott had it all in hand.
And he did, as the team showed against Plymouth. Scott Morgan baffled by Cov…CET.
Some of the errors he highlighted in the article were still there on Saturday. We did lose ball on a few occasions and in doing so either squandered 50 metres ( eg. when Matt J inexplicably dropped the ball in his 22 when no one else was around) or conceded a try ( eg. when Dom failed to gather from the kick off). So this wasn’t a faultless performance by any means but our ball retention was generally very good. Cov generally used the phases to build up territorial advantage and put themselves in a good position to either attack the Plymouth line or at the very least give themselves a better chance to play the ball in Plymouth’s half and negate the opposition’s scoring opportunities.
We still conceded penalties in key areas and too many of them at that. As far as I can recall, Plymouth missed one penalty attempted and opted to kick to the corner on three separate occasions instead of taking very kickable penalty attempts at goal. Key decisions that might have changed the result….who’d be Chris Robshaw, eh?
Despite this, and from the perspective of a very biased Coventry supporter, it would have been a travesty had we lost the game, or even drawn it. In boxing parlance, it was no knockout performance but we definitely won on points, with a couple of rounds in our favour. It was edge of the seat stuff in the last 20 minutes, but Cov were immense during that period, holding onto their nerves and defending stoically and being rewarded for their efforts with that oh so late try from JLR.
In the Coventry Evening Telegraph this week, Scott’s language is far more upbeat Coventry intensity pleases boss Scott Morgan…CET:
It was far too close for comfort to be honest, but I’m delighted with the win and I’m proud of the boys today. I thought there was a massive rise in the desire and intensity from the last two weeks
And he’s spot on. No emotive response this time but just a frank, honest assessment:
We made a couple of errors and let them back into the game, which has been a bit of a trend, so we’ve just got to be a little more streetwise and a bit more clinical in certain areas of the game and then we’ll be really strong
The relief is obvious, but so is the recognition that Cov have still some way to go before they are where he would like them to be, indeed expects them to be. And that’s what I like about Scott Morgan. Good is not good enough. When we get it right and when things really click for 60 minutes plus in a game, then some team is really going to suffer…we saw the potential for this against Wharfedale and Loughborough. As key players come back, confidence will continue to grow. Having Tincknell, Weightman, Thomas and Le Roux available for selection, with Hodgson, Carpo and Knox not too far behind, and Dan to return soon after Christmas, suddenly the picture is a whole lot rosier on the injury front.
Supporters left happy on Saturday…a great game, right result, a much improved performance and a great try to finish on. But this isn’t a team that is yet ready for promotion. We haven’t even put our best team onto the pitch, nothing like. With results falling our way on Saturday, we are still very much in the fray, along with several other good sides. However, the one thing in our favour is that we are some way off performing at the levels we know we can. No need to peak too early. Touching distance for the next few weeks is fine…top two by Christmas..? Certainly a possibility.
So, well done Scott Morgan and the rest of the coaching staff. Two defeats on the trot must have set the alarm bells ringing an the win of Saturday was crucial. A third and this week would have been very different. Hull is not going to be an easy game, but it is winnable and that would see us move above them in the table.
In Cov we trust…