Coventry v Blaydon: One moment in time…
In the week following the Esher game, just when it’s crying out for some sort of statement from someone at the club, anyone really, as to why Coventry were so outclassed on the day, there hasn’t even been the usual Mon/Tues press release. From Saturday’s post-match comments in the Telegraph and the report in The Rugby Post until early evening Thursday, nothing.
Disappointing really. A wall of silence, only serves to frustrate supporters more.
It would have been good to know what the reaction from the squad was at the Tuesday training session, or what’s being done differently this week by the coaches to try and ensure we’ll be better equipped to give a performance that reflects the true abilities of a team that seems so lacking in confidence at the moment.
With it being a home game on Saturday and an attendance likely to again be well down on last season’s averages, you might have expected the club to try and generate some interest during the week with news of what’s been happening.
The coaches must feel vulnerable at the moment, too, with a string of disappointing performances, supporters calling for change and the club in the wrong half of the league table – a statement in support of them and what they are trying to do might also have been appreciated. It’s something I might have expected, anyway.
Wrongly, as it happens.
Even a statement to thank those supporters who journeyed down to watch a performance that Scott Morgan said publicly was the worst in the four years he’s been at the club, would have been something.
Still, perhaps I’m of the old school and things have moved on.
Maybe the rumour regarding Coventry City being interested in a move to the Butts might engender a response. An outright rebuttal would be welcome…
In the meantime, the only media comments regarding Saturday’s game against Blaydon seem to be coming from Crow Trees (is there a better named ground in the League?) where an upbeat Director of Rugby, Micky Ward, relieved that Blaydon had secured their first win in 8 games, commented that:
You never really know what to expect from (Coventry).
They have a good budget and players including the former All Black Craig (sic) Hamilton, but they change their personnel a lot.
It’s interesting that’s how Coventry are perceived from outside of the club – having a ‘good’ budget and a club that changes it’s personnel a lot. Is the second half of the last sentence Ward’s explanation as to why we might have a ‘false league position’.
In Cov’s defence, I’m not sure I totally agree with what he’s saying as in the last two seasons we’ve kept hold of a large percentage of the previous seasons’ squads, but certainly there have been occasions when there have been wholesale changes. This year, would we have made so many changes week in, week out had we not had the injuries? Probably not.
Whether there’s any mileage or not in what he says, it’s still the view of one of the clubs in National 1 and they probably aren’t alone in thinking it.
It would appear that Blaydon will be without their prop, Andrew Foster who is on the bench for Newcastle Falcons this weekend. Just how much that weakens their scrum remains to be seen. Hopefully, it’s an area in which we should have an advantage.
And what of the Coventry team? Still waiting on that at the moment….
Before having a brief look at Saturday’s team announced earlier this evening, a word of thanks to the club for releasing news as to where some of the squad players have now been loaned out to. Anyone reading this blog on even a semi-regular basis will know I have been somewhat critical of the lack of information coming from the club, especially about what’s happening to those squad players whom we haven’t been seeing on match days. Thank you for the update.
Simple things make a big difference.
It’s disappointing that Courtney Roberts isn’t seen as being a first team squad player as of now, but at least he’s getting some competitive rugby under his belt. It clearly worked for Danny Wright; hopefully it will for Courtney, too.
As for the team itself, it’s pretty close to the one that I’d forecast in Wednesday’s post (11/11/15) and I’m delighted that Coventry have reverted to a more tried and tested format. The importance of Saturday’s game can’t be understated; excuse the vernacular but it’s ‘sh!t or bust’ in many ways. It’s one we have to win and the repercussions of anything else just aren’t worth even mentioning here. That’s why electing to go with experience throughout the team, with the exception of young Rory Hutchinson, is the only sensible option available right now.
It’s a significant decision made by the selectors here. Despite, by my reckoning, well over 20 new recruits since May including DRs and the likes of Baker, Carpo, Mieres and Smith in the last few weeks, Cov have gone back to the squad that served them so well for most of last season. The pack contains no ‘new’ faces being completely reliant on players from last season and in the backs there are just three of this year’s recruits playing – Mieres at full back, Hutchinson in the centre and Weightman on the wing.
Had MacBurnie been fit I rather thing he would have been wearing the No 13 shirt, as is the case on the wing had Dan Rundle been available. The full back has been a problem position for us since Cliffie’s run of injuries at the back end of last year. The inclusion of the Gaston Mieres makes complete sense to me, especially as Hamilton hasn’t really done a great deal this season other than a decent performance in the second half of the Loughborough game. Having him on the bench gives Morgan the option of using his vast experience should things be tight in the final quarter. Caolan Ryan has proved himself a capable stand in this season and although he probably doesn’t want to be labelled as a ‘utility’ player, that is exactly what he’s becoming, an an extremely useful one at that. His time will surely come.
In the forwards, there are no great surprises. With Parkins out , and presumably for some time given the
obvious pain he was in at Blaydon, and Kivalu demoted to the bench, Thorne and Brown return to the front row with Price, and Hope to come on in the second half to add a bit more mobility and a fresher pair of legs. I’m glad to see Chad back, there were times last season when he dominated the opposition front rows, as did Brown. Kivalu has got some stick from supporters over his apparent lack of fitness; I’m not convinced about that, he tends to hang back from rucks when we are in possession of the ball and is used to make the initial break into opposition defences, Hardwick style. Or maybe I’m being a bit generous…? Anyway, he’s on the bench and if he comes on for the last 25 minutes or so, he could cause some real damage.
I thought Danny Wright would get the nod over Roberts (although he’s now gone to ‘Street) and Ben Thomas. He has yet to prove he’s up there with Thomas and Courtney (and Martin Wolfenden when he returns from representing Zimbabwe in the Cup of Nations) for me, but he is Cov through and through, but with Cov’s already atrocious disciplinary record, he’s something of a risk!
The back row looks quicker with Pailor, Oliver and Le Roux, and much will depend on their speed to the breakdown. The stats suggest this might be an area of strength for Blaydon – negate their back row and we are really in business. Whilst Daniel Carpo comes with real pedigree, he hasn’t added a great deal to Coventry on the pitch. Le Roux at No 8 is something of a talisman, or can be when he’s going forward.
What this team says about the quality of the players brought in during the close season is perhaps best left for another day – or maybe about the way these players have been used up to now. It’s taken 10 weeks to revert to a team selected from what is ostensibly last year’s squad, Mieres excepted. Something has gone wrong somewhere.
However, the next couple of days is about getting behind the team selected to face Blaydon. All these players played a big part in the 18 game unbeaten run last season with the exception of the injured Le Roux. It certainly rewards loyalty if nothing else.
This is a team the crowd will warm to, familiar faces who have proved themselves to a ‘discerning’ set of supporters, one not always easy to please. There will be some added excitement at the prospect of seeing Gaston Mieres for the first time – with only a four week trial, let’s hope he has a blinder and we snap him up because if we don’t, surely someone else will?
So, here’s to a great game and one that sees us start to play with the confidence and self-belief we showed back in the balmy days of late August, early September.
Now I was never a great fan of the late Whitney – at all – but it seems to me that ‘One Moment in Time’ seems frighteningly appropriate for Cov just now, given their present situation:
Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny…
…I’ve lived to be the very best
I want it all, no time for less
I’ve laid the plans, now lay the chance
Here in my hands.
The plans are indeed laid, the chance is now; Cov need to grab it with both hands.
Come on, Cov!