Rosslyn Park – the dog bites back
And as we all know, a wounded animal is a dangerous one.
Cornered and clearly suffering, expect Coventry to prove a point with a much improved display on Saturday. Anything less would be unacceptable. Those fans travelling up from The Rock should expect a Coventry side fired up by a woeful performance last week and growing criticism in the press and social media. The Cov dog may be down but its about to get up again, give itself a good shake down and rush headlong into the fray. This is no time to be licking wounds. Inquests, well they come later.There is no team more motivated than one forced to look back at its own humiliation. And a few days on, having seen and read some of the comments in the local press and social media, Cov should be itching to put things right. Used in a positive way, the hurt that the team must be feeling should generate an energy of its own. That is would be my starting point as a coach. Sit the squad in front of a recording of the game. Then show them what they have achieved already…the first halves of the Wharfedale and Loughborough games for a start. This is Coventry. This is what we do. Go do it.
Knock them down to build them back up; metaphorically, of course.
Rosslyn Park will be wary of Coventry, no doubt. They, too, have suffered at the hands of Fylde, just the week before in fact. Much to their credit, they regrouped quickly and produced a strong performance in beating Ampthill at home last week. They will understand exactly how Coventry are feeling.
Two of the bigger names in the league, two teams that have flattered to deceive so far this season, two teams who want what would be a signature win for either side. It’s an interesting prospect. It won’t necessarily be the free-flowing rugby that we witnessed from Fylde last week, but with a lot riding on it for both teams and the home supporters hoping for a dramatic improvement in Coventry’s performance on the pitch, it will be definitely be a tense affair.
Nerves will certainly be jangling, on and off the pitch.
Park probably go into the game as slight favourites in my book, although it’s a tough one to call. Both teams are mid-table, with Park 6th in the Nat 1 rankings, one place above us with 22 points, against our 19. With 4 wins out of 7, we have lost one more game than Park, but have have conceded only 4 more points, so it’s pretty much nip and tuck between the two sides. Both teams must be disappointed with their apparent inability to pick up bonus points; Coventry have managed 3 in all and Rosslyn Park a paltry 2. To put it in context, Fylde have amassed 7 but are only in 8th place. Our defeats have been by relatively wide margins and in our last couple of wins we have failed to score a 4th try.
On form it’s Fylde with a WWWWLLW sequence against Coventry’s WWLLWWL. As I said, a tough one to call. Home advantage could be a factor, but the crowd have been ominously quiet these last couple of games so Coventry will need to start the game with a flourish if they are make the most of being on home turf. Who knows which Coventry side will turn up given the Jekyll and Hyde performances so far this season? If Coventry can dominate up front and provide the backs with a plentiful supply of ball, then we could profit from the strong running of the likes of Weightman, Tincknell, Ryan and Lespierre, but if we are slow to the breakdown and provide out opponents with as many turnovers as we have done in previous games this season, it could be a difficult afternoon.
Certainly supporting Coventry is never straightforward and already it’s been something of a rollercoaster ride. Hopefully we have now climbed to the top of the steepest slope and are about to embark on a series of thrilling loops and turns as we gather momentum over the remainder of the season. Stretching the analogy too far? Maybe, but if we don’t starting putting a run together soon then the knives will be well and truly out; they are already being sharpened in some quarters judging by the Messageboard. It always saddens me that there are those supporters in any sport who are quick to turn on the manager or coaches when things don’t go to plan. We are a fickle breed at times.
Let it not be forgotten that in the last four seasons we have finished 13th, 9th, 4th and 3rd whilst at the same time ensuring financial stability. There aren’t many other clubs who can boast such record in our division. Scott Morgan, Phil Maynard and Jon Sharpe have moved the club forward during this time and although this hasn’t been the best of starts for the club, we are less than a quarter of the way through the season. Things change so quickly in this league; I still think by Christmas we will be in a much stronger position than we are at present.
One moan from me though and it’s related to the Fylde debacle. I’m a little surprised that Wayne Evans hasn’t said anything publicly about his two yellows in the second half. As club captain there is an expectation that he should lead by example, setting the standards by which others should follow. In behaving as he did, especially with the apparent ‘slap’ in the final seconds of the game on Saturday, he let himself, the players, the club and the supporters down. A word via the press, or on the official website or even the Messageboard to apologise and say he and the rest of the squad are determined to put things right over the weeks would have gone down well and shown that he understood the supporters’ frustrations. A missed opportunity, really.