After a performance like the one we witnessed on Saturday, it’s hardly surprising that this Saturday’s game away at Plymouth can’t come quick enough for many supporters, although I understand that given it was such a bruising encounter, perhaps the players feel they might deserve a little longer to recuperate…
Games between two similarly matched teams rarely pan out quite as you’d expect, but the stats would have us believe that even taking into account Plymouth’s home advantage, the game is going to be tight and the final score close.
Whilst Plymouth have 2 more wins this season than Coventry and are three places ahead of us, in many respects the both teams are very evenly matched.
What might be a decisive factor, however, is the growing number of injuries that seem to be befalling us once again this season. Not only did Le Roux, Tresidder and Poole have to leave the field on Saturday, Thorne on the bench clearly wasn’t match fit either. Cliff, too, is carrying an injury. Add these to the others already out and, once again, Scott Morgan is down to the bare bones.
But in a strange way, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I think problems of this nature can add something to a team as it necessitates everyone pulling together and helping each other that little bit more.
You dig deeper to support your mates because you know that’s what they’re doing for you.
I’m sure this was a factor in Saturday’s draw against Richmond.
Here’s to a great spectacle, cleanly contested and well officiated.
Coventry v Plymouth Albion– the stats:
Win/Lose sequence – last 10 games
Plymouth Albion (6th – 52pts): WLLWWWWWLW
Coventry (9th – 43pts): LLWWWLLLWW
With only one defeat in the last seven games, Plymouth have clearly got some momentum going now and with home advantage and a large and passionate crowd urging them on, this is going to be another huge challenge for a Coventry team not yet firing on all cylinders.
The home game earlier in the season was a hard fought affair, with Coventry in the end edging it 26-19, with two players making their first appearances of the season each scoring a try. For Jacques Le Roux it was a return after injury and for Peter Weightman it was his debut appearance.
Coventry took an early lead but a period of ill-discipline, including a yellow card for Tom Poole, saw Plymouth score 12 unanswered points.
Since then, Plymouth have found some consistency in their performances and have moved on a lot…I get he impression that in 12 months time they’ll be pushing for the top spot given their ambitions and heavy recruitment this season. Coventry’s results aren’t as yet reflecting their true potential, but Saturday’s fantastic draw against league leaders Richmond should be a springboard to better things and those involved in the game must surely believe that, on the strength of the Richmond performance, they are capable of beating anyone in the league.
Plymouth, though, will also be feeling pretty confident following Saturday’s game. Having been down 26-10 going into the final quarter they punished Fylde, scoring four tries in those final 20 minutes.
Home/away league tables
Plymouth Albion: 9th in the league based on home games only (23pts – av.2.56 pts pm) F192 A195 Diff -2
Coventry: 10th in the league based on away games only (16 pts – av. 2.00pts pm) F183 A204 Diff -21
Neither team has a particularly convincing record here, with Plymouth losing 4 of their 9 home games and Coventry winning 2 of the 8 away games. With Plymouth Albion on something of a roll at the moment, you’d have to fancy the home side, particularly with a long trip south for Coventry. I imagine that they’ll be staying overnight as they did for Darlington, but it might be that without the possibility of a top 3 spot to play for, Coventry will opt to travel down on the Saturday morning, especially with gate receipts down at the moment and finances presumably tighter than the club might have expected at the beginning of the season.
Points wise, despite Coventry’s poor run of form away from home, they have scored a similar number of points on their travels to that of Plymouth playing at home (average 21.33 pts pm for Plymouth at home against an average of 22.8 pts pm for Coventry away from home), so maybe there’s something there to work on.
Tough place that it is, Brickfields is certainly no fortress these days and if Coventry go into the game with the same steely determination and intensity as against Richmond, you’d have to fancy them to come away with something.
Plymouth Albion(9th): 53 (24 home, 29 away, 33 first half, 23 second half)
Coventry (8th): 56 (32 home, 24 away, 26 first half, 27 second half)
This stat really confirms the previous one. Plymouth certainly aren’t prolific scorers; even less so at home, with both teams having scored 24 tries. Plymouth have a slight tendency to score more tries before the break, whilst it is the reverse with Coventry, although Plymouth’s last game against Fylde did buck the trend.
However, provided the final 10 minutes of the Richmond game hasn’t taken too much out of the team, then we know that Cov are more than strong enough even with so many absentees, to repel a late Plymouth onslaught. The Richmond game was the first for a while where Coventry didn’t capitulate in the last few minutes when under pressure and if they can maintain this level of concentration in the same way that they have maintained their discipline on the pitch since Christmas, then they will have every chance of gaining another 4 points away from home.
Plymouth Albion: 50 – 8th (25 home, 25 away, 25 first half, 25 second half)
Coventry: 52– 9th (23 home, 29 away, 30 first half, 22 second half)
Again, little to choose between the two teams here, with only two tries difference over the season so far. However, away from home, Coventry are more likely to concede tries than their opponents are when playing at home (on average almost a try a game). However, this stat is skewed slightly by the Esher game where we leaked tries – take this game out of the equation and Coventry would have a very slight advantage.
Everything points to a tight game.
Tries by position – against
Plymouth Albion: backs 23, forwards 23 (back row 17) 4PT
Coventry: backs 22, forwards 28 (wings 14, back row 17) 2PT
Plymouth don’t seem to be any more likely to concede in one area of the pitch than another, although 17 of the 23 tries conceded against opposition forwards have come from the back row. Further, they have conceded 4 penalty tries which is on the high side. Does this suggest that their scrum isn’t a potent force defensively…are they prone to the catch and drive or rolling maul?
Without the benefits of the RFU tapes made available to all teams, it’s impossible to answer, but the same problem came up in the Richmond stats last week, yet Cov were able to nullify the most free scoring back row of any club in the league.
Maybe they’ll have to do something similar against Richmond, too.
Tries by position – for
Plymouth Albion: 29 in the backs, 22 in the forwards. 14 from the half backs and 123from the back row. 2PTs
Coventry: 28 in the backs, 24 in the forwards. 13 from the wings and 15 from the front row. 4PT
Again, the two teams have very similar stats under ‘tries scored’. Coventry’s forwards have scored a couple more and have 4 PTs to their name. The forwards have been playing particularly well of late and even with a very depleted front row last week, the pack held their own, despite the Richmond report. Injuries are impacting on the selection of forwards and it might well be that Kivalu and Foreman will be packing down again with either Hope or Price, but I think we’ve seen enough of them now to know they will do a job and no one will be let down.
The Plymouth half backs are clearly attack-minded, but in Wayne Evans and the back row we have players who are very organised defensively and are more than able to take their opponents out of the game (legally!).
For Coventry, Price continues to score regularly and with Hope not far behind him, the hookers are as dynamic as you’ll find anywhere in National 1…and with Matt Price’s try on Saturday, Devlin will hope that Scott Morgan gives Matt the 11 or 14 shirt so that he can have a rare start this season.
Tries from the centres appear to have dried up temporarily in Knoxy’s absence, but with Mieres starting to ooze class and create scoring opportunities both for himself and those around him, it surely won’t be long before Tincknell and his part start to feel the benefits.
Points given up
Plymouth Albion have conceded 4 tries 5 times in all, but only twice at home.
Coventry have conceded 4 tries 5 times this season, of which 4 have been away from home
It’s pretty obvious from the above that Coventry haven’t travelled too well this season. However, a number of positives have come out of the last few games that causes me to be more hopeful than I might have been before Christmas.
First, we are conceding far fewer penalties with no yellow cards in the last three matches (I think?). This makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of the team and given our weakness against opposition line-outs close to our line, then the fewer opportunities teams have to kick for the corner, the better. The 10 minute period of injury time in the Richmond game would have been more than enough time for opposition teams earlier in the season to have kicked one or even two penalties as a result of our previous tendency to be ill-disciplined. But not of late and that makes it much tougher for the teams we play to break us down.
Secondly, and connected to the first point, our defence is that much more organised, with everyone knowing what to do and players supporting each other in the tackle. With over 30 phases in the final minutes of Saturday’s game and only 30m or so out, Richmond had every right to expect to score. That they didn’t was down to a team of players prepared to put their bodies on the line and a confidence that if one player missed a tackle the next one wouldn’t.
|18||19||1||–||1.06||11 (58%)||8 (42%)||7 (37%)||12 (63%)||8||1||9|
|18||11||–||–||0.61||5 (45%)||6 (55%)||7 (64%)||4 (36%)||11||–||7|
From being the single most depressing statistic before Christmas, things are now starting to look a whole lot better on this front. Whilst we still have the worst disciplinary record of any team in the league, there are now a number of teams on our tail and were there to be a table available of the most improved disciplinary records in National 1, we would also be top of that.
Richmond lost a player to a yellow card last weekend and that made a significant difference…had it happened the other way around, well we might all be feeling somewhat different 4 days on. It’s away from home that we appear to really struggle, with 2/3 of the yellows handed out to Cov coming away from the Butts.
One thing’s for sure…we’re going to find it a great deal tougher to beat Plymouth with 14 players on the pitch for one or more periods of 10 minutes than we will with 15 players on for the full 80.
Half time win/loss
Plymouth Albion have led at half time in 9 of their games, going on to win 9 of them.
Coventry have led at half time in 10 of their games, going on to win 8 of them.
In a losing position at half time in 9 of their games, Plymouth Albionhave gone on to lose 7 of them.
Coventry have lost all 8 games in which they were trailing at the half way mark.
This just show how difficult it is to overcome a points difference at half time. Coventry have failed to do so on all 8 occasions that they have been behind at the interval, whilst Plymouth have only managed to turn around 2 of the 9 games they been in a losing position at half time.
Whilst it by no means impossible for Coventry to do so, they must make sure that they are ahead or at the very least just a score behind going into the interval, as history will otherwise be against them. They have shown they can play with an intensity that seemed to be missing earlier in the season and not only that, they can retain this for the full 80 minutes; something they might have to do if they do find themselves behind in the final quarter.
With Cliffie H in the side, there’s always the chance that a game could be decided on just one mistake. For instance, had he been fit enough towards the final stages of the Richmond game to take that 40m penalty in the final minute of normal time, we could have been celebrating the win instead of a very honourable draw.
Kicking strike rate
Billy Searle– Plymouth Albion: 58.97% (23/39)
Thomas Putt– Plymouth Albion: 74.1% (23/31)
Cliffie Hodgson – Coventry: 77.27 (17/22)
Matt Jones – Coventry: 69.01% (49/71)
With Matt Jones presumably still unavailable though injury, Cliffie Hodgson again resumes the kicking duties. And here we have our first real advantage over Plymouth. And it could be a significant one…
In last week’s game it was Billy Searle who was on kicking duties for Plymouth (I presume Putt is injured?) and he has a poor return at only 59%. Should the game depend on the accuracy of the two respective kickers (and the stats suggest it will be a close game) well, we might have a distinct advantage here…
Leading points scorers
Plymouth Albion: Billy Searle with 86 points (6T, 13C, 10P)
Coventry: Matt Jones with 122 points (25C, 24P)
Leading try scorers
Plymouth Albion: Michael Stupple 9, Michael Dacres 8, Billy Searle 6
Coventry: Matt Price 8, Rob Knox 7, Devlin Hope 6
Rather like Coventry, Plymouth Albion don’t have any out and out try scorers at the moment (wait ’til Knoxy gets going!),
For Coventry, Matt Price now is the leading try scorer having moved from his usual position of hooker to out on the wing last week, Rob Knox remains on 7 but his season has been significantly disrupted by a series of injuries , with Devlin Hope still hanging on to third spot.
Albion’s average home gate of the season is an impressive 1056, the second highest in the league behind Coventry who average 1164. With many fans set to travel on Saturday, expect Plymouth to have a higher than average gate.
Like Coventry’s supporters, Plymouth’s are loud and passionate and it should be a fantastic atmosphere at Brickfields Recreation Ground.
And the result?
A 1-4 win to Coventry.
Close, but this time Cov will get the cigar this time.
Looks like Coventry and Plymouth use the same marketing team…
TEAM OF THE CITY FOR THE CITY v YOUR CITY, YOUR CLUB….
0-5 to Cov already then, if only because we show an understanding of how to use the comma correctly.