Match talk

…Come Hull or high water

Coventry’s win at Hull yesterday says much about the character of the team.

After two consecutive losses against opposition we might have expected to beat in what should be a promotion-chasing season, things could easily have spiralled out of control. A defeat at home against Plymouth Albion last week and our backs would have been well and truly against the wall…not to mention the forwards too. If success breeds success, then defeat breeds a loss in confidence and no matter how good you are as an individual or team, poor morale will inevitably create unrest and a run of poor performances.

Last week’s home win was evidence of an improvement in confidence and performance, but for me, today’s result away from home against a

Table as after the Hull Ionians game

Table as after the Hull Ionians game

fired up Hull Ionians, fresh from their impressive win at Fylde (winners yesterday against much-fancied Rosslyn Park), was always going to be the real test. Home wins we have a right to expect from Coventry this season. Away wins will separate those teams pressing for a top four finish and those having to settle for mid-table mediocrity. And Coventry seem now to have sorted out some of their earlier frailties and are beginning to again look like a team that means business.

Once again, this week’s results have gone our way, with  both Ampthill and Rosslyn Park losing to Blackheath and Fylde respectively. A two weeks ago, after those couple of losses there was suddenly an element amongst the Coventry faithful who were fearing the worst, especially in the light of Scott Morgan’s comments in the press that the team winning the league could afford to only lose two games, three at a pinch, all season. The next two weeks are seminal as far as the rest of our season is concerned; Fylde next week and Rosslyn Park to follow, both at home. Win those and if a couple of results go our way as well, things would be looking even better. Now England are out of the World Cup perhaps attendances will also increase and we’ll be rocking at BPA by the time Rosslyn Park visit us; it could make a big difference.

Six games in and teams at the top are dropping enough points to ensure that those behind remain in touching distance. A quick look at a table shows we are only four points behind the leaders, having moved up a place to 5th. More games will inevitably be lost by all the top six or seven teams before April. Does that make it a weaker or stronger National 1 this year….there’s an argument to be made either way? With bonus points seemingly hard to come by again, the side promoted at the end of this season is going to secure rather fewer than Ealing Trailfinders’136 last season, losing several matches in the process.

Although details of today’s game are still rather sketchy, it appears we went into an early 12 point lead and then had to defend for

Devlin Hope scored on of the two tries but was also yellow carded

Devlin Hope scored one of the two tries but was also yellow carded

much of the game. Another two yellows…Hope and Pailor this time…although ironically the two guilty offenders were the try scorers as well.  The fact that we didn’t capitulate under such pressure, away from home and in front of what I would imagine to be a passionate (albeit small) mostly East Yorkshire crowd of 274, is encouraging. There will be a few more such scenarios over the rest of the season…

I’m sure this isn’t  a team that is going to buckle when the cold winter weather kicks in and pitches become icy mudbaths. John Sharp and Scott Morgan wanted experience for a reason and today’s result was built on just that.  The likes of Ampthill and Hartpury might well not fare quite as well as I believe we will because their squads don’t have the depth ours does.

Somewhat boldly for me, last week I forecast Coventry to be in the top two by Christmas; that is looking more likely now following this weekend’s results…but who knows what the next week will bring?  It’s an exciting place to be, this National 1. And Cov are making it even more exciting for us supporters by being so predictably unpredictable. Oh for another 18 game unbeaten run again…the way this season is progressing, that would see us promoted.

Like Hope, Sam Pailor was also yellow-carded after scoring a try

Like Hope, Sam Pailor was also yellow-carded after scoring a try

The team showed a bit of northern grit today…now the injured players are returning to the team they have that added experience.

Top two by Christmas?

They’ve definitely shown that they can be promotion contenders on today’s performance…

..come Hull or high water…

 

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