The delay in announcing side to play Richmond suggested there might be a few shocks in store, and so it has proved.
Where to start?
The front row. Scott Morgan has kept faith with both Tipiloma Kivalu and Joe Foreman who performed so admirably against Hartpury last week.
The withdraw of Andy Brown and Chad Thorne due to injury last week, together with the absence or injury of all other registered props, meant that the two most inexperienced contenders, with just 3 Coventry starts between them, were drafted in to face an experienced Hartpury front row.
And by all accounts they did exceptionally well, particularly 21 year old Joe Foreman of whom Morgan said in his post match comments:
he stood up today and showed that he can play at National One level – he’s a young local lad, he wants to play for Coventry, and he‘s 100 per cent someone we want to bring through and look at for the future as the club moves forward.
At least we now know of one player who will definitely be here next year!
Both he and Kivalu played the full 80 minutes, as they had to with both front row replacements on the bench being hookers. Such was the impression they made last week, it seems Scott Morgan is more than happy to play them again, even though Chad Thorne is available. He now replaces Jake Farnworth on the bench.
Presuming Chad is fully fit, Scott Morgan seems to have taken something of a gamble by fronting Joe Foreman against the league leaders and whilst his willingness to keep faith with the youngster is admirable, it remains to be seen just how wise a decision it is. I’m sure Scott will have had no hesitation in giving Foreman another opportunity and it is now up to the youngster to prove it was the correct decision. It’s hard to argue against it, given Scott’s remarks before the Loughborough game:
We’re also at the time of year when we need to look at some players with a view to next season, which is why we have….. made a few other changes
Despite having to be helped off the pitch last weekend, once again Matt Price retains the No 2 shirt. Quite what Devlin has to do to add to his 3 starts this season is unclear – at the moment the only way he’ll be the first choice hooker on the day is if Matt is injured.
I would have thought Devlin had done more than enough to be offered another chance and given Matt will be 33 next month and considering the pummelling his body takes every game, he could do with a break. He’s one of the most physical players in the side and he must feel it come Sunday morning – I know I do and that’s just from watching the game…
That said, once again Matt’s experience might well be called upon again and he is technically superior in the set pieces, something Hope himself alluded to recently.
The selection of Courtney Roberts to play in the second row is particularly welcome. Having impressed a great deal in the opening 4 league games, Courtney’s continued absence from the team had raised a few eyebrows. Whilst Ben Thomas hasn’t played badly, and indeed the line outs have been much more consistent in the last few games, I do think Courtney needs another chance to prove himself. He’s had a difficult time settling in since moving here from New Zealand but he has a great pedigree and clearly has much to offer the club. I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing him back at the Butts.
I do believe that like Joe Foreman, Courtney could very much be one for the future…and even the present, depending on how he performs today. Whilst I’m no expert when it comes to the line out, he does seem quick around the pitch, good with ball in hand and was effective in the lineout prior to his exile to ‘Street.
The back row is, erm, interesting. Tom Preece’s inclusion is another very encouraging sign, suggesting that he is another that Scott wants to have a closer look at. Like Courtney, Tom impressed a great deal in the couple of games he played at the start of the season, and with Oliver injured (thanks John W for the update – shame this wasn’t mentioned when the team was announced) it’s an obvious option. As with Courtney, I’ll be watching Tom’s performance closely; I wonder if they’re on the same list as Joe Foreman vis à vis next season.
Tom will certainly add some pace to the back row and given the form of the Richmond back row, he could prove a very useful addition to the team.
Danny Carpo comes in as well, with Sam Pailor taking his place on the bench. My only concern would be that with two genuine No 8s playing, we might be a little less competitive at the breakdown, but Carpo is vastly experienced and his presence could be invaluable in other ways. There’s a lot of size there and perhaps the belief is that this might be more effective against Richmond than any other combination we can presently put onto the pitch, given two of their back row are in the top 4 try scorers in National 1.
Perhaps Scott is a believer in the adage that size really does matter.
No Evans at scrum half. But another chance to see George Tresidder who also came out of the Hartpury game with his reputation very much intact. Given George is a DR, there’s less reason to see him with a view to next season, so it must be that Scott feels he will offer something different to Evans, the club captain. Perhaps his pace and his inclination to snipe around the base of the scrum and rucks might be viewed as a positive against Richmond…it would certainly commit their backrow and give a chance for quick ball when appropriate.
I feel some sympathy for Sam Smith. He came in at very short notice, appeared to have a decent game by all accounts last week, only to find himself replaced by young George Worth, the Leicester Academy loanee.
Smith, a contracted member of the squad and Worth on loan. Not totally sure as to the logic, given Smith hasn’t let Cov down yet…
It might be that Sam picked up an injury, but it’s another of those additions this week that could have done with a little explanation as a footnote to the announcement of the team on the website.
Plenty of discussion points, then. On paper it doesn’t look the strongest team that Scott could have picked, even allowing for injuries, but given the success of Joe Foreman’s integration last week, maybe he feels that the triumph of youth over experience is worth a punt…
I guess it’s a case of ‘Ours not to reason why’, the only difference is that it’s the players out on the pitch that have to do the ‘do and die’ bit and given Richmond are the league leaders, you’d have thought you want to put out the very strongest team available…and admirable as it is to play the youngsters, we’ll have to see if they are up to the 80 minute challenge of a Richmond side that is something of a juggernaut on a down slope with failing beaks at the moment.
Is it a Richmond’s world…?
…well, we’ll soon find out, that’s for sure.!
In the recent past, one of the players I most enjoyed watching was Brett Daynes.
He was a real team player, someone who didn’t get the headlines but seldom had a poor game. He had real pace, scored tries and made things happen.
It would seem, however, that after a pretty serious injury which was one of the reasons he left Cov, he is now thoroughly enjoying his time at Cambridge where he is proving a big hit…
Finally, good news about Dan Rundle.
Despite posting an Xray of two broken screws in the ‘plated’ leg, all is well and he’s been given the go ahead to continue stepping up his training – he’ll be at full speed in the not too distant future.
Looking forward to seeing Dan back in a Coventry shirt and causing panic in the opposition defences…but only when fully fit.