Henley v Coventry – Regatta de (blue et) blanc
Rio riay riayo
Rio riay riayo
Rio riay riayo
Rio riay riayo, riayo, riayo, riyao
Riya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya
Regatta de Blanc – The Police
Whilst I totally accept the need for the odd two-week break between League 1 games, both to alleviate possible fixture congestion following previous bad weather, or simply to give players a break from the physicality of competitive rugby, as a supporter I find them hugely frustrating.
Win and the next game can’t come quick enough; lose and it’s like falling off a bike, you have to get up off the floor, dust yourself down and get face the challenge again. The longer you leave it, the more it hurts.
So I’ve been looking forward to travelling down to Henley almost from the moment the referee blew time on the Cinderford game. A 5 point win today and anything but maximum points for Wharfedale will ensure our place in National 1 next season, not that it is in doubt but it’s always a relief when mathematically we’re safe, too.
The news that Rob Knox is fit and selected to start alongside Callum MacBurnie and thus re-new what has, for me, been our best centre pairing of the last few years, is most welcome. When Rowland Winter’s appointment was announced and he indicated in his first Coventry Telegraph interview that there would be a significant number of players moving on, I feared that we might not see the two of them together again, given we didn’t really know the extent of Rob’s hamstring problem.
The fact that Rowland has retained the services of both players was a real plus and if we can recruit some more backs of their ability, or even potential ability to play alongside Dan Rundle as well, then we could be seeing something special (and Sam Smith, of course). If the new DoR’s modus operandi really is very much attack orientated, then it could make for a veritable try fest if next season they see their fair share of ball.
That said, Rob has been out for several months and so expectations today shouldn’t be too high. He’ll need time to get back into the pace and tempo of the game; 80 minutes without any recurrence of the hamstring problem, or any other injury, will do me fine. A few trademark breaks would be a bonus. A try…the icing on the cake.
The backs are looking pretty close to the starting line up we might have expected back in September before Mieres came into the reckoning. Hough/Weightman on the wing with Cliffie maybe at full back and Hamilton on the bench might have been our strongest line up, but it’s not far off what many might have picked.
The forwards would be very different, I imagine, were everyone available – with the likes of Le Roux, Thorne, Roberts, Poole, Preece, Price and co. either injured, left or on the bench. However, the back row is strong and will probably have a bit more mobility about it with the inclusion of Woodburn.
Danny Wright has been a revelation in the last couple of games, back to something near his best I prefer him in the second row where his pace and strength in defence give him an edge. Thomas has been reliable, although Tom Poole would probably have got the nod from me, but the fact that it’s a reasonably close call shows what a good player he is.
Kivalu is benefitting from Chad’s absence but in fairness to him, I thought he was outstanding in both his last two appearances. If he can avoid being yellow carded, his presence in the front row could cause a Henley team that will be short on confidence, lying as they are, at the foot of the table, huge problems. With the ball he’s had a few Hardwickesque moments of late, something I’d love to see again today.
Andy Brown is one of those players who just gets on with it. He’s not flashy, doesn’t draw attention to himself but is a master of his art at this level. He is Mr Consistent and with 5 games left, he’s probably my player of the season.
And Devlin Hope gets two consecutive starts…
Part of me hopes that with Matt Price looking as if he will be staying on, Coventry are giving Devlin the chance to get himself noticed by other clubs or, better still, Rowland has been re-looking at the recordings of the games he’s played and is having a few second thoughts. Okay, I know that’s not the case but he had a stormer against Cinderford and put in one hell of a shift. Anyway, he clearly loves the club he’s got the chance continue to impress. Matt is likely to come on at some stage and with Knoxy back in the fold, he might yet have to grab a couple more tries to ensure he remains the clubs leading scorer come the end of the season (I can’t believe what I’m writing but what a story that would be. One for the grandchildren, certainly!)…
And of course there’s the coaches, too.
We know that they’ve only got 5 more games left together and each one will be tinged with a little more sadness.
Lots has been said already, including by me in previous posts, but the Butt’s will have an Aggers-shaped hole in the fabric of it’s being before too long, leaving a gap that won’t be ever be filled because there won’t ever be another Aggers to fill it. He is the embodiment of what most Cov fans expect from someone connected with the team: tough, uncompromising, fiercely loyal and courageous and as a player someone who was hugely competitive and had the ability to match.
I’ve written lots about Scott’s departure but the fact that he’s going to stay with the club in some limited capacity is indicative of his love for the club too. It would have been very easy for him to walk away from the Butts with his head held high, but he hasn’t done that. He is still prepared to help the club out even after he leaves. He won’t have been here long enough to merit the same ‘legend’ status as Aggers, but he’s got all the same attributes. He’ll be missed.
It sounds like there’ll be a fair few Cov supporters travelling down to Henley. With an average attendance of not much over 350, Coventry supporters will certainly make themselves heard and hopefully the players will be aware of this during the game.
I can’t wait
…hope they do a good burger.
For anyone not able to go to the game, I’ll tweet regular updates from Dry Leas on Twitter (@Cowshedtim) or if you don’t have Twitter, you can still see the tweets in real time on the top right hand side of the homepage of this blog.
Hopefully, I’ll also post some pre-match photos in the evening, if not definitely on Sunday morning.
Come on, Cov…
Just to confirm, the bit about the mystery benefactor in yesterday’s post was indeed my own amateurish attempt at an ‘April Fool’…apologies if it confused anyone.
As April 1st pranks go though, I have to kneel down and bow before Gilbert Rugby – their marketing team excelled themselves with yesterday’s effort and the fact that so many well-known faces were willing to be involved makes it all the more amusing (although sponsorship monies might also have something to do with it!)
If you haven’t seen it, take a look…just click the main image.
To do something like that you do, indeed, have to have big balls…
And for anyone old enough to remember the Police, here is Regatta de Blanc
I definitely still have a bit of bromance for Sting…was there ever a cooler front man (other than Brucie?, perhaps)…