Henley Hawks – yet more lies, damned lies…
Statistics, likelihoods, and probabilities mean everything to men, nothing to God
Well, if there is a god and if He is watching over us now, perhaps He’ll be good enough to leave the room, put the kettle on and humour us for a few minutes whilst we ponder the comparisons between Coventry and Henley so far this season.
And looking at the stats below, it would appear that all Coventry need to do is turn up and the points are theirs. Henley have really struggled to find any sort of form over the last few weeks and in every area I’ve looked at, Cov would appear to have the upper hand.
But this is Coventry we’re talking about.
Great to watch one week and capable of entering self-destruct mode the next.
However, Scott Morgan has instilled a far greater self discipline of late and with that comes a self-belief and the realisation for the players that their current position in the league neither reflects their own individual abilities or that of the team as a whole.
The phrase ‘Coventry are a sleeping giant’ is too often banded about. I do believe it to be true but not in relation to their past achievements and the glory days of the likes of Duckham, Preece, Evans Rossborough and co.
No, they are a sleeping giant in the sense that those who have watched Coventry over the last few seasons know that the present squad is capable of beating anyone in this league, as the likes of Ealing and Rosslyn Park found out last season.
Back to virtually the same team as then, without Rundle and Hurrell but one that includes Mieres. Were they to consistently produce the kind of rugby we saw at times last season and in spells against Cardiff, Ealing, London Welsh, Wharfedale and Loughborough this, then they would be at the very least in the top two or three in the league by now.
No. Actually, we’d be top.
It might all be a bit too late for this season, but Coventry are beginning to flex their sinews. A win tomorrow and the clubs ahead of us will be beginning to look nervously over their shoulders.
Coventry (9th): WWLLWWLLLWW
Henley Hawks (14th): LWLDWWLLLLL
Whilst Coventry have found a little bit of form, winning their last two games, Henley have lost their last 5 and must be feeling the pressure now, falling to 14th in the table and in the relegation zone for the first time this season.
An away game against a resurgent Coventry side that scored 38 points without conceding any in their last game at the Butts can’t be something Henley are relishing.
Home/away league tables
Coventry 10th in the league based on home games only (av. 2.67 pts pm) F163 A112 Diff +51
Henley Hawks 10th in the league based on away games only (av. 1.29 pts pm) F90 A211 Diff -121
Verdict: Whilst the Butts hasn’t been the fortress it was in the last couple of seasons, Coventry ‘nilled’ Blaydon two weekends ago and must be looking to earn the extra bonus point against a Henley side that has conceded 211 points in just 5 games away from home, the last two being a 54-5 defeat against Richmond and a 35-5 defeat at Hull.
However, given how unpredictable National 1 is this season, Cov can’t afford any drop in intensity against a side that only narrowly lost at home against Fylde 18-23 last week (although Fylde were down to 14 men for the whole of the second half following a ‘harsh’ red card, and that’s according to Henley’s own match report).
Coventry (6th): 36 (19 home, 17 away, 18 first half, 18 second half)
Henley Hawks (16th): 20 (8 home, 12 away, 12 first half, 8 second half)
Coventry appear to have a definite advantage here, having scored 16 tries more, although they have had an extra home game.
Strangely Henley Hawks have scored more tries away from home, but when you’ve only scored 20 in total, this isn’t especially significant. Coventry average 3.16 tries at the Butts, whereas Henley can only average 2.4 tries away from Dry Leas, an average that Cov can hopefully add to this weekend.
Verdict: If Coventry can gain the forwards dominance that was the platform for strong second half performance against Blaydon and, to a lesser extent, Cinderford, they should be favourites for the win. If not, then it will be a tough afternoon for the home team.
Coventry: 32 (14 home, 18 away, 20 first half, 12 second half).
Henley Hawks: 53 (21 home, 32 away, 22 first half, 32 second half) – 18 in the final quarter
Henley Hawks have conceded more tries this season so far than any other team in the league, 21 more than Coventry who are 10th in the table no one wants to top. With 32 of the tries coming away from home, Coventry must fancy their chances of capitalising on what would appear to be a fragile Henley defence. With an average of 5.33 tries per away game conceded, a bonus point must be something Cov can expect if the game goes to form.
Henley would seem to be at their most vulnerable in the final quarter, having conceded 18 tries in this period. Injuries allowing, the likes of Kivalu, Hope (or Price!), Hamilton, Ryan and Carpo could cause damage coming on in the final 25 minutes or so.
Verdict: Coventry mustn’t rush things. All the stats suggest that the longer the game goes, the more vulnerable Henley become. The backs are beginning to find some form as the spaces have begun to open up for them and a first half spent exerting dominance in the forwards should enable the backs to test the Henley defences and then exploit any weaknesses in the second half.
If ever a game called for plenty of width, then this must surely be it. With Mieres, Weightman, Lespierre and Hamilton all finding themselves on the score sheet in last couple of games and Rob Knox looking as if his confidence is returning with every game, it’s hard not to expect the backs to cause Henley’s defences more than a few problems.
Tries by position – for
Coventry: backs 19, forwards 16 (front row 10, centres 9). 1PT
Henley Hawks: backs 6, forwards 14. 0PT
Verdict: For the majority of the games this season it was the forwards who were outscoring the backs but in the last two games the backs have seen far more possession and have been able to find some decent form, leading to tries at full back, centre, scrum half and on the wings. At last it looks like we’re playing 15 man rugby as opposed to the misplaced reliance in games 3-9 on the forwards and the kicking of Matt Jones, in particular, to get us some territorial advantage.
On paper, Henley don’t appear to offer much of a threat from their backs, with only 6 tries coming from them all season, or put it another way, they average just 0.54 tries a match from their three quarters. However, we ignore the threat they offer at our peril.
Our backs, by contrast , are hitting some kind of form right now and are beginning to look a potent threat, particularly as the games starts to open up. If the stats are right, then only 5 tries from the wings this season is something of a disappointment and shows just how much of an influence Rundle and Hurrell were last season.
Part of the problem is that Dom hasn’t seen nearly so much of the ball as we might have hoped for back in September, but for all his endeavour, he has yet to look the player he was last season. He must be frustrated by the way the season has unfolded up to now, but his time will come and he just needs to be patient.
It looks as if when the threat does come, it will come from the Henley pack who have scored the bulk of the tries so far.
However, with Thorne and Brown returning to the Coventry front row and the back row looking far stronger with Le Roux returning and Pailor rediscovering his mojo, I think Cov can cancel out Henley’s forwards early on, especially from their back row. And with the two hookers sharing nine tries between them, you’ve fancy either Devlin or Matt to be grabbing hold of the ball every time we get set up a maul within 10m of the Henley line.
Tries by position – against
Coventry: 16 in the backs, 15 in the forwards. 13 from the wings and 11 from the back row. 1PT
Henley Hawks: 33 in the backs, 18 in the forwards. 14 from the wings and 11 from the back row. 2 PT
Verdict: If this stat tells us anything, it tells us Coventry are susceptible to the ball going wide to the wings, with 40% of the tries they’ve conceded being scored by the wide men ( remember Spencer Sutherland?). This is an area of concern, not perhaps against Henley given so few tries have been scored by their backs, but certainly against teams higher up the table where the backs are scoring more freely.
Ironically, Henley would appear to have much the same problems only to a far greater extent. Given this information, should Coventry look to run at Henley early on and test their defences or should they continue with the more patient build up of the previous two games where the forwards have ensured total dominance before unleashing the backs?
Points given up
Coventry have conceded 4 tries three times this season but just once at home.
Henley Hawks have conceded 4 tries seven times in all, 4 of those being away from Dry Leas
Verdict: Coventry must see Saturday’s game against Henley as an excellent opportunity to earn their third consecutive bonus point.
Coventry will be desperate to make up ground on the teams above them and the bonus points we gain could yet be hugely significant come April of next year, if not for us, then for the teams at the top and bottom of the league
Coventry: 13 yellows/1 red – worst in the league. This doesn’t include Evans’ second yellow against Fylde that was converted into the red – average of 1.30 cards a game (9 first half, 4 second half, 4 home, 9 away).
Henley Hawks: 10 yellows – equal second worst in the league with Esher – average of 0.91 yellow cards a game (5 first half, 5 second half, 5 home, 5 away).
Verdict: Two teams with the worst disciplinary records in National 1. Could be an interesting one!
Whilst Coventry’s discipline record this season remains a massive concern, huge credit must go to the coaches and players for turning around what was fast becoming Coventry’s achilles heel.
We still have the worst disciplinary record in the league but the % of yellow cards received per game is now down to 1.18, having at one point been over 2. Earlier in the season, we have saw all too often the damage caused by a player leaving the pitch for the obligatory 10 minutes. Yellow cards against Henley could negate any of the advantages we hold elsewhere and Fylde almost lost to them last week having received a red card towards the end of the first half.
Sam Pailor (3Y) and Tom Poole (2Y) are the principal offenders, with Wayne Evans having received the only red.
Henley have received most of their yellow cards in the second half, so perhaps tiredness and/or frustration makes them more susceptible. Worth remembering…?
Half time win/loss
Henley Hawks have led at half time in just 3 of their games, going on to win all of them.
Coventry have led at half time in 6 of their games, going on to win all of them, a record which is the best in the league alongside Esher’s.
Coventry have lost all 5 games in which they were trailing at the half way mark. In a losing position at half time in 8 games, Henley Hawks have gone on to lose all of them bar one which they drew.
Verdict: It’s the same as for the last few weeks – Coventry have yet to overturn a losing position at half time.
This merely emphasises the importance of going into the half time break with a points advantage, otherwise Cov are going to have to do something they haven’t been able to do in half of their games so far this season, win when behind.
Equally, with Henley Hawks having lost all but one of the 8 games they have been losing at half time, then if Coventry do find themselves in front after 40 minutes, then psychologically it will be very much to Cov’s advantage.
Kicking strike rate
Matt Jones – Coventry: 68.52% (37/54)
James Combden – Henley Hawks: 67.74% (21/31)
See yesterday’s post about some thoughts relating to Matt’s kicking!
His strike rate has again dropped below the 70% mark for the season but remains pretty much in line with the National 1 averages. Combden’s is remarkably similar, although he has had fewer attempts at goal.
Verdict: Nothing in it between them. Mieres might yet be given the chance to show what he can do…
Leading points scorers
Coventry: Matt Jones with 90 points (21C, 16P)
Henley Hawks: Callum Sheedy with 54 points (9C, 11P)
Leading try scorers
Coventry: Matt Price 5, Devlin Hope and Rob Knox 4 tries each. Don Lespierre 3 tries
Henley Hawks : Robert Stapely 5
Verdict: If Coventry continue the progress of the last couple of weeks we can expect these numbers to increase, especially in the backs where Knox and Lespierre will be hoping to add to their tallies at the weekend.
No 8 Robert Stapely is clearly a threat with the ball and Cov will need to pay him particularly close attention.
Coventry average 1120 at home games, the highest in the league. By comparison, Henley Hawks’ average home gate is just 356
It’s fair to assume that with a relatively low home attendance, Henley aren’t going to bring too many travelling fans with them on Saturday.
However, there has been a huge shift in the general mood in and around the Butts during the past couple of weeks. I would expect the home gate to be up on the average by almost 200 hundred, even though Henley might not have the same pulling power of say a Rosslyn Park or Plymouth Albion.
A bigger than average crowd and the roar that goes with it is sure to be a positive influence on a Coventry side continuing to improve game by game.
Overall verdict: Coventry 5 Henley Hawks o