Plymouth Albion: in space no one can hear you scream , Max Titchener and the results of the poll

WHISPER it softly, but Plymouth Albion’s bunch of newbies are starting to look like a pretty decent team.



plymouthThus starts the Plymouth Herald’s report of Albion’s home win against Darlington Mowden Park last Saturday.

And with 5 wins in their 7 outings so far this season, the evidence points very much to that being the case.
Whilst there might indeed be soft whispers heard around The Brickfields at the moment, come Saturday they could well turn into screams should Cov repeat the kind of form they displayed at times against Fylde last weekend.  Cov gave something like an 80 minute performance for the first time this season, and within that there were phases of play in which Coventry completely overran their opponents.
This, too, was a  ‘decent’ Fylde side, a side that will trouble many a team this season with their attacking brand of rugby, even though at times on Saturday they were left chasing shadows as the Coventry backs found a return to their early season form and the opposition provided them with the space run into.
And as Fylde found out…in space, no one can hear you scream.
The only two teams that both Cov and Plymouth have played so far are Hartpury and Esher.
Plymouth were away to both sides, losing the former 31-14 and the winning the latter 19-21. Their win against Esher was in stark contrast to the  34-14 defeat we suffered a couple of weeks back when we simply failed to turn up on the day. We’ve scored 24 points more than Plymouth so far in our 7 games although we’ve conceded 25 more, whilst in the process earning ourselves an extra bonus point.
With Cov beating Fylde at a canter by the end of the game and Plymouth having lost to them in a closely fought contest two weekends ago, everything points to it being a far tougher encounter, on paper at least, than Coventry’s game against Fylde proved to be on Saturday.
At first glance, the Herald report, entitled ‘A walk in the Park’, might be enough to give any Cov supporter palpitations, but closer reading shows that in actual fact against an injury ravaged Darlington team they managed to score  5 tries, with 3 of them coming in a ‘devastating’ 5 minute spell in the second half.
The boot of Kieran Hallet (ex of Pirates) had a significant impact on the game and suggests that Plymouth aren’t going to be a team that opts for quick taps if they win any penalties in range. It also looks as if Coventry’s discipline has got to be a lot better than it was on Saturday when, and this is one of the few negatives to come out the game for me, I thought we gave away far too many penalties.
From Albion’s own report of the game, Darlington’s plight sounded similar to that of Cov against both Esher and Blackheath
…they looked like they were still on the coach in the opening 20 minutes
You’d kind of hope that playing at home, that’s not something that will happen to Cov this coming weekend. I imagine Darlington were able to go down on the Friday evening, but even so, it’ still a long, long journey, as referenced by the writer of the report who, using understatement to great effect, went on to suggest that Darlington:
…finished a well-beaten side…not relishing the massive 375-mile journey home.
Coventry have a huge advantage in that we are at home again and in all four games we’ve played at the BPA, we’ve looked strong, even to the extent of leading Hartpury with just a few minutes of play left.
It’s unlikely the crowd will be any less than the 975 who watched us blitz Fylde with five second half tries and hopefully, with Wasps playing away against Stade Toulousain on Sunday, there could well be a few thousand of their supporters bereft of any live rugby for two weeks; something  which could, and should, work in our favour.
I imagine Coventry’s marketing department are in overdrive even as you read this post, publicising across all forms of social media, on billboards and on flyers in all the local shops something to the effect of it being a  ‘crunch game’ against an ‘in form’ Plymouth Albion in front of a near ‘sell-out crowd’ which is bound to be  a ‘thriller’ with only a ‘few’ tickets remaining and with a chance to see ‘Wasps’ future stars in the making’…
At least that’s what I’d be doing, but then I have absolutely no moral compass whatsoever…
 The Plymouth Albion report finishes by mentioning the tough trip the team has next week to ‘mid-table Coventry’.
I don’t know what it is about that phrase that grates on the nerves for me quite as much as it does. ‘Mid-table’.
Factually, of course, it’s absolutely right, but Cov…
Oh, it hurts to see that in print.
Cov are a mid-table team and deserve to be so, but some of the rugby we’ve played at times this season has been so much better than that. I think what hurts most is that’s how we’ll be seen by those outside of the club…too much pride on my part I guess, but we’ve had the fall and maybe this pride is now associated with the rebuild of the club and the promise of a better future.
But still…
Too often ‘mid-table’ is associated with mediocrity and that’s one thing we’re not. Rowland Winter and the coaches have amassed a really strong squad and whilst results have been somewhat disappointing  away from home, I’ve seen enough to believe this is a team going places.
Starting with a couple of places up the table following a win on Saturday…hopefully.
Last week Brendon Snyman made the point that much of Coventry’s problems were down to confidence, that the basics were there and the players needed to:

look in the mirror, own up to what (you) did well and what (you) didn’t do so well, and just take ownership of it. I believe our systems are in place and 100 per cent it’s just confidence

I’m sure confidence is the key…we saw on Saturday how the team played once they’d taken the lead against Fylde, especially in the second half; there was really only ever one team in it by then. The Esher and Blackheath games showed there’s plenty that needs addressing, but on the back of a 53-24 victory there’s signs that real progress is being made.

If Cov can take the last 15 minutes of the game into training this week, then it will surely make the coaches job that much easier over the next few days.

In front of the Cov faithful, plus a few others as well hopefully (!), you have to believe that a resurgent Cov is more than good enough to beat Plymouth Albion. Nick Walshe, the attack coach, has been here a few weeks now and maybe last Saturday we began to see his influence exert itself on the pitch – certainly it was very much back to pre-season again and we looked a different side with ball in hand. It’s unlikely that Plymouth will play the same type of open game as Fylde and I expect we’ll have to work that much harder to create the spaces for the backs to run into. One thing we do know for sure is that in Stokes, Knox, James and Howe (if selected) we have the players who can unlock the door.

…provided the forwards continue to supply the key.

Early days, I know, but Cov have yet to put a two game winning run together in the league. With 8 games played, that’s one of those statistics that comes as a bit of a shock.

Mid-table but without two consecutive wins.

If Cov are going to start climbing the table, then they can’t rely on and odd win here and there. Two wins on the bounce and the run starts and with a series of games to come against eminently beatable teams, suddenly things look a whole lot rosier.

And if this team does get up a head of steam, and if what Brendon Snyman says is correct, then we’ll be a very tough team to beat.

If you missed the Fylde game, you missed a fabulous afternoon’s rugby. Come along on Saturday and you might well see Cov produce another great feast of entertainment.

No Wasps?

No brainer.

Come and watch Cov.



We’ve seen and read a lot about the performances of the Wasps Academy players who made their debuts for Coventry at the weekend, and rightly so.

Watching them gave me immense pleasure – as it does watching any youngster play with such skill and confidence, for or against us. I appreciate that for some supporters, using Wasps loanees is a step too far…but not so for me.

But we shouldn’t forget that we  also have some very gifted youngsters of our own and whilst they might not be getting quite the plaudits as those currently directed towards the likes of Jack Willis, nevertheless they are doing extremely well at the clubs to which they’re presently attached.

Take Max Titchener, for instance, who looks to have made a fine start to his spell at Newbold if this tweet is anything to go by…

Another way of looking  at the whole DR debate is to reverse the argument and  look at it from the viewpoint of our own Development Squad players. We are just as reliant on junior clubs, like Newbold, giving our talented youngsters those self-same opportunities as Wasps are on us.

And if  Max continues to show this sort of form, then further experience, maybe at National 2 before too long, will be the next stepping stone to him one day making his first full league appearance for Cov in the seasons to come – and who knows, maybe even a Man of the Match award as well.

The very fact that we now have our own Development Squad is a really positive move on the part of the club…and after a while, if it becomes a natural progression from the Academy to the Ist XV for just one or two players every year, then it is money very well invested. The problems is, I suppose, if they end up as good as we hope they will be, can we hold onto them…?

…but that’s one for the future.

In the meantime, well done Max and all the best over the coming weeks.

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to see him in the Development Squad games against Moseley coming up before Christmas.

In the meantime…here’s something to whet the appetite.

Boy, the lad can tackle…

Max Titchener highlights…


Very many thanks to everyone who took part in the ‘Man of the Match’ poll over the weekend. The results of the votes are as follows:

  1. Jack Willis – 48%
  2. James Stokes – 19%
  3. Andy Brown – 13%

With Jack giving such an eye-catching performance on debut, it’s hardly surprising he polled as many votes as he did and such recognition from both supporters and sponsors is deserved for one of the best debuts seen in a Cov shirt for a long time…in fact I’m struggling to think of another – anyone help out?

It’s good, though, that both supporters and sponsors were unanimous in their choices; the idea of the coaches offering up suitable candidates  from which the sponsors then select seemed to work well against Fylde, although it was helped by Jack’s stand-out performance.

Given the poll has proved as popular as it has, I’ll run it for the next couple of home games  and then review it – even if the decision of the supporters and the sponsors is in agreement, the readers’ poll does indicate how close the decision might, or might not, have been.

4 thoughts on “Plymouth Albion: in space no one can hear you scream , Max Titchener and the results of the poll

  1. Hi Peter,

    I’ve been of the same opinion – thought Jack Willis’ presence made a difference on Saturday – but was impressed with both Ali Bone and Sam Harry, Tuilangi (?) might add another dimension to our play, but by all accounts his discipline is a concern, although hopefully that is something the coaches can work on. Agree about the weather…although I’d always fancy our scrum to do well whatever the conditions!

  2. Hi Paul…hope all is well. Many thanks for continuing to support the blog!

    I hadn’t to be fair, am always a bit wary of gate-crashing other sites as it might look as if I’m just interested in a bit of self-publicity. Might be of interest whilst the 3 DRs are with us though…? Will give it a think!

  3. Hi Tim, have you thought about posting this on Wasps’ unofficial site?

  4. The signing of the young Tuilanghi, sorry about the spelling, for the season will surely enhance the back row, which in my humble opinion, is the area that needs rejigging. It was as you say Tim a great game to watch and as I predicted on the notice board, once we click we will be awesome. Looking forward so much to the Plymouth game, hopefully the weather will be kind to allow an open free running game.

Any thoughts:

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