From bludgeon to rapier…

The report of Saturday’s game against Cov on the Newport website is well worth a read.

Often it’s the case that the opposition view a game very differently to the way we do and their report can give an account of the match that is at odds with  your own perception of what you think you saw unfold in front of you.

Not so with Newport’s.

It’s a very detailed and extremely objective match report and it  makes for an interesting read (see below for the link). There’s plenty of praise for Coventry and it is fully accepting that Coventry were the better team on the day and that:

by half time, in truth, the game was already over as a contest

I always find it fascinating to read how other clubs see Coventry. Often the preview of a Coventry game is all about the club’s  former glory days and the tradition that Cov carries with it – although to Cov it probably feels more like a millstone hanging around its neck at times.

Phrases like ‘sleeping giant’ and ‘a club that could boast greats of the game like Duckham, Evans, Preece and Rossborough’ sometimes make an appearance too.

Not so with Newport, who only made mention of meeting up with ‘old friends’ once again.

This is a club you warm to straight away.

In the match report itself, the writer makes reference to the ‘major surgery’ that Coventry have undergone over the summer and that during new DoR Rowland Winter’s tenure at Cambridge RFC,  he had built the club’s growing reputation on a ‘buccaneering’ style of rugby.

Now I’m not quite sure what a ‘buccaneering’ style is, but it certainly sounds an improvement on some of the dour games we sat through last season.

Yes, buccaneering will do nicely, thank you very much.

And to continue the piratical theme, the writer remarks that Coventry at times switched from the ‘bludgeon to the rapier’ (how I wish I’d come up with that), presumably contrasting the ability of Cov’s forwards to bully Newport in the scrum with the backs’ fast and clinical dispatch of the Newport defence at times during the game.

‘Bludgeon and rapier’ – brilliant.

The writer acknowledges Newport’s ‘ineffective’ tackling which allowed both Max Trimble and Sam Grasso to score under the posts unopposed, whilst also accepting that even in the final 20 minutes, when Newport were dominant in terms of points scored:

Coventry were still capable of causing damage, especially at the scrum. Their problem was keeping hold of possession.

I think most Cov observers rightly referred to Newport’s resurgence being as a result of our poor defence and retention of the ball, without crediting the fact that even when we shipped three tries, we still caused the opposition difficulties. We saw that final quarter as being poor from a Cov point of view, but Newport also accepted that despite the obvious weaknesses, we were still dangerous.

A point worth remembering.

The Newport report remains generous, putting Coventry’s last quarter performance down to the ubiquitous merry-go-round of changes that is a prerequisite of most friendlies:

…as can be the way in pre-season matches, the constant chopping and changing of players can disrupt the flow of a game. With the match won, the things that had worked for Coventry for the first hour suddenly stopped working

Ok, it is a worry that we should lose concentration to the extent that we did and the coaches will have to work with the players to ensure they give a performance over the full 80 minutes, rather than just the first 60, and whilst it’s now excuse, at least we can offer an explanation.

The final remarks suggest offers plenty of encouragement for Coventry:

Both teams will have learned a lot about themselves during the display. Coventry have tons of pace in the backs and are electric in attack, but their defence was patchy and their ball retention could be quite poor. But they will overpower a lot of teams in their division, I’m sure

Given Newport played Rosslyn Park the week before, losing narrowly (24-24), this is heartening to hear and if you compare the two reviews (see below), I would venture to suggest that of the two teams, Coventry’s performance seemed to enthuse the writer more than Rosslyn Park’s.

Coventry supporters have mentioned on the Board and elsewhere a number of strong performances coming out of the Newport game, the front rows, Jubb, Grasso, Fenner, Knox, the wings. However, the player that the Newport reviewer singled out for praise was backrower, Darrell Dyer:

…regardless, the result was a try for outstanding Coventry number 8, Darrell Dyer, once in Leicester’s squad, apparently. It showed.

His name was mentioned, along with others, by a few supporters, but not many. However, he clearly impressed the Newport players and coaches. It will be interesting to see where he starts next week, as he’s down as a blind side in the squad list…if he does play at No. 8 that might give RW more options in the back row…?

Anyway, well done Newport for producing such a balanced and fair report of the game…I can only reciprocate Newport’s own sentiments:

Newport RFC wish Coventry good luck for the forthcoming season and thank them for this fixture. It would be good to see them at Rodney Parade in the future.

Good luck to everyone involved with Newport RFC over the coming months…

…I’m looking forward to the visit already.

Newport’s review of the Coventry game: Coventry v Newport – 20/08/16

Newport’s review of the Rosslyn Park game: Newport v Rosslyn Park- 13/08/16


There were some other interesting result in Saturday’s pre-season friendlies and whilst comparisons probably shouldn’t be drawn, I going to do so anyway…

Jersey Reds 23 – Worcester Warriors 17 – a strong first half performance and a rear-guard last 25 minutes saw Jersey Reds defeat Premiership opposition. Warriors Head Coach, Carl Hogg, was very disappointed at the performance and whilst Coventry were beaten in Jersey by a far larger margin two weeks ago, the fact that we had the better of the first 15 minutes of the first half and the middle 30 of the second only confirms what we said at the time…Coventry’s performance was far better than the result suggests against a very strong Jersey Reds side.

Newport Gwent Dragons 21 – Ealing Trailfinders 41 – by all accounts a dominant performance by Ealing against one of the top four teams in Wales.  Ealing ‘only’ managed to score 28 points against Cov and for long periods of the game we were able to match them in many key areas. It was an improved performance by Cov from the week before in many respects and the fact that Ealing dominated Dragons to the extent they did on Saturday should again put our result into context.

Richmond 25 – Rosslyn Park 5  – Rosslyn Park’s defeat on paper against Championship side Richmond wasn’t too dissimilar to Coventry’s against Ealing, although Coventry had the benefit of home advantage. Richmond almost certainly won’t be any stronger than Ealing and according to The Rugby Paper, Ealing dominated Park for long periods, something they weren’t able to do against Cov. Park are tipped to be, once again, one of the top sides in National 1, but they weren’t able to create much against newly promoted Richmond.

Caldy 15 v Loughborough Students 29 – no details or match reports other than the score from Rolling-maul. Caldy play in National 2 North (the same league as Bury St Edmunds whom we play next week ) …it appears it might not have been a full 80 minute fixture.

I know you can’t read too much into results at this stage – last season taught us that. However, with a different squad, a different coaching structure and a pre-season that is shaping up much as we would have wanted, it is reasonable to feel a little more confident that we will be able to hold our own with most teams in National 1, even from the start of the league campaign.

The consensus on Rolling-maul seems to be that Moseley are favourites, with Rosslyn Park in the mix.

Cov have gone under the radar which is exactly where I’d want us to be.

In the poll a couple of weeks ago, most people felt 3rd would be where Cov ought to be finishing come the end of the season…and that’s pretty much where I think they’ll be…a top 3 or 4 team. Certainly, I’ve been more encouraged the more I’ve seen of the squad.

Whilst we don’t know how well other teams have recruited or how their preparations have gone over the close season, I think this year’s Cov squad is stronger in the forwards and has far more options in the backs, with genuine pace across all positions (even Boris showed a good turn of speed on Saturday!).

Early, early days…

…but if this was a school ‘settling in’ report…

…this is (ex)teacher who would be forecasting a decent set of results come the end of the year.

Not top of the class necessarily, but certainly making more than satisfactory progress.


For anyone not able to attend the Members’ Forum this evening (at 7.30 pm), I will try and summarise what was discussed in a post tomorrow.













2 thoughts on “From bludgeon to rapier…

  1. Thanks, Mick, much appreciated. The blog is my hobby really, something to keep me occupied in my retirement and prevent me from vegetating! The fact that there are others who dip into it as and when and that, as a result of writing it, I’ve met some lovely people is just the icing on the cake.
    Hopefully, see you this evening.

  2. Another informative blog Tim. Thank you for your great attention to detail always enjoy the reading of them.

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