Club talk

Hull yeah…

One of the good things about travelling down on the supporters’ coach to away games this season is that Rowland Winter, the coaches and the players always make you feel appreciated, no matter the result.

After the game, RW and Brendan Burke came onto the  coach to thank supporters for making the trip down and to emphasise just how aware they are of the commitment made by those supporters who follow the players on their travels.

It’s been done before, so it’s nothing new in that sense, but the willingness to come on and talk about the game and answer a few questions so soon after the game is.

Little things mean a lot.

I’m sure they’ll always be a job with AXA for RW should he need it.

hullflyerAfter a few words from RW, Brendan Burke confirmed what many of us had felt, that the Coventry away support certainly was louder and more vocal than that of the home crowd and he said that during the game ‘every word’ could be heard…although in such a small crowd that probably isn’t too much of a surprise.

I don’t know the actual attendance as yet, but I imagine it was the smallest Cov has played in front of so far this, by a distance, and will remain so over the rest of the season.

And this despite the most amazing offer on ground entry I’ve ever come across.

In an effort, I presume, to increase numbers through turnstiles (or down the driveway in Hull’s case), Hull Ionians were yesterday offering each Hull member the opportunity to bring 4 non-members in with them for FREE.

Yes. Four.

And all free.

Just how successful it was as an incentive to get people into the ground, I don’t know. Certainly it didn’t seem too busy and the stand, which seats approximately 250  wasn’t full by any means. But it is another indication of just how hard it is for clubs to sustain the sorts of attendances they were getting  a season or two ago and perhaps, in that light, the 1100 plus Cov are currently attracting should be seen very differently.

I have to say, if Cov were to do something similar I’m not sure how I’d feel. Yes, it’s brilliant in the sense it could get a lot of additional ‘supporters’ into the ground but if I were just a normal Cov supporter who didn’t have a season ticket, I’d latch myself onto someone who did have one and get in for nothing.

And if I’ve paid the equivalent of £12 for my ticket, I might also feel a bit miffed if 4 others get in for free on the back of it. Mind you…that should guarantee you free beer for the afternoon…

img_0891It seems a bold move to me. But if it does work then good luck to Hull. Theirs is one of the most picturesque grounds in National 1, set as it is in open countryside and at this time of the year, as the autumn colours dominate the skyline, there aren’t many better National 1 clubs to visit.

The hospitality at the ground was excellent, everybody was very friendly and we were made to feel welcome; it’s a ground that I’ll look forward to returning to again should our paths cross next season.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There was a definite sense of relief yesterday amongst everyone connected with Coventry RC down at Brantingham Park  immediately after the referee’s final whistle to signal the end of the game and Hull Ionians’ 21-40 defeat to a resurgent Coventry team.

It was as significant as it was emphatic and should be just the fillip Cov need to embark on a decent run of results and secure a move back up the table to a position that by Christmas better reflects the potential this squad possesses.

And emphatic it was, at least as far as the score line was concerned. At home, Hull have been difficult to beat this season.

Really difficult.

Of the four previous games played at Brantingham Park, Hull had won 2 and lost 2…beating Darlington Mowden Park and Esher and losing to Moseley and Blackheath. In each of those defeats, however, they have lost by just 2 points.

And we all recall what happened when we played Esher and Blackheath earlier in the season, albeit on our travels.

So a 19 point win, put into that sort of context, was very creditable indeed and shouldn’t be underestimated. Three previous away defeats this season (and 4 if you count Jersey, pre-season) were in danger of becoming something of a millstone around our necks..

And potentially liberating, too. Just how much difference it will make won’t be clear until Cov make the relatively short journey down to Ampthill RFC in a couple of weeks’ time, but they will do so in a far more confident mood following the win and the bonus point from yesterday’s game

Good as Cov played for a lot of the game tough, and they did look very good at times, this was another of those 60 minute performances that have so typified our  season so far. 27-6 up at half time, Cov seemed to be pretty much in complete control, although even in the first 40 minutes there was a period of play when Hull looked dominant , with their right wing in particular causing us a few problems.

In the second half, Hull played far better and it was a much more even contest, although Coventry were able to kill the game with two good tries just when it looked like Hull might be starting to come back into it. The game was a bit scrappy in the final quarter, possibly the result of a couple of Cov injuries, a yellow card and a number of substitutions with Cov scrum losing a little of its early dominance and Hull capitalising on a bit of Cov ill discipline.

However, it would be churlish not to highlight the positives that came out of this performance, and there were many.

Cov looked sharp from the onset and with Pete White, the Coventry puppeteer pulling the strings at scrum half, Cov danced a merry dance. His quick thinking, incisive running and lightening reactions were at the heart of much of Cov’s attacking play and his performance was a real tour de force. It bodes well for the rest of the season. (Pete was the clear winner of a MoM poll conducted on the coach back from Hull…).

I think if I had the option of watching a player cam on any one player in the Cov side, it would be on Pete. His work rate is immense and he certainly gets into the faces of the opposition, as was the case with the Hull second row on one occasion!

Brendan Burke and Rowland White both made the point after the game about how pleased they were with Coventry’s defence. There were periods of play, especially in the second half, when Hull saw plenty of possession (four minutes unbroken at one point) but Coventry were able to keep Hull moving laterally for the most part, without making too many inroads into Coventry territory.

The ‘chop’ tackle, which Cov has been working on for the last couple of weeks, was certainly used to good effect, stemming any Hull momentum and with Coventry defending in numbers, we won some turnover ball, too. Brendan Burke  emphasised the point that Cov were able to bring much of the work being done on the training ground onto the pitch on a match day, something that will have pleased the coaches a great deal.

He went on to say that Cov were doing the simple things well, getting good ball and hitting the opposition hard  – and certainly that was the case yesterday. And once the simple things are done well, Cov had the players out wide to exploit the gaps that opened up.

Praise was given to the youngsters who once again were prominent. Both the wings excelled, making their tries look easy when they were far from that and once again defending strongly. Whilst they will be missed when they return to Wasps next weekend (if that is still the plan) hopefully, Dan Rundle and Max Trimble will be all fired up and ready to take their places for the Blaydon game – if selected, of course.

Like it or not, it is no coincidence that in the last three games we’ve had Wasps Academy players in the side, we’ve been undefeated. Just how Cov will cope when they do go back is going to be crucial.

However,  I believe that part of the reason for Coventry’s  inconsistency earlier in the season was  a lack of self-belief. With three consecutive wins now under their belt, you’d hope that the confidence is  there and that in the games leading up to the final fixture before Christmas, against Moseley, Coventry will have more than enough self-belief  to repeat the kinds of performances we’ve seen against Plymouth and Hull Ionians – and even push on from them.

A word here for Sam Harry. I thought he put in a really good shift yesterday and whilst Owain James and Tom Howe will attract a lot of praise, young Sam deserves a special mention. Alongside Eoghan Grace and Darrell Dyer, he worked tirelessly, especially in defence. He certainly didn’t seem out of place amongst his more experienced team mates and he is beginning to look a really good young prospect. Along with Eoghan Grace (who I thought was prominent , too) he was quick to the breakdown and was always involved, winning Cov some decent ball at times.

Tom Wheatcroft also appeared lively when he came on and made a real impact…he tends to break the first tackle more often than not and in doing so. he causes problems for defences who are having to turn. If they remain fit, he and Rob Knox could be the central midfield pairing that we’re looking for as they seem to complement each other so well.

There were a couple of injuries, notably to Matt Price who  turned his ankle and James Stokes, who I think suffered a dead leg. Rowland Winter didn’t seem to think that either was going to be a problem after the game, although Matt was definitely hobbling a little on his way back to the changing room.

The journey back from Hull was all the better for the win. A good run, just two hours twenty minutes and we were back at the Butts in good heart, delighted to have watched Cov’s first away win of the season.

Cov are now in sixth place, just two places behind Ampthill whom we travel down to in a couple of weeks’ time. Both Blaydon (next week) and Ampthill will be tough challenges but they are precisely the sorts of games we need to be winning now – a note of caution though, after nine attempts Blaydon won their first game of the season against Fylde yesterday, the team Ampthill play (away) next week.

The league table is now beginning to take shape and having had that tough start to the season, the fixtures are beginning to work in our favour.

Yesterday was an important one in Cov’s season.

Just how important  remains to be seen but it was the away win we so desperately needed and the result that could really kick-start the season.

Hull were a good side and they are going to trouble a lot of teams visiting Brantingham Park over the course of the next few months, especially when the weather turns. The confidence Cov should take from their first away win, along with that gained from the last few minutes of the Plymouth game, will make us all the stronger.

On such experiences are winning teams built….

Well done Cov – you helped make it a great day out.

 

 

 

 

 

2 replies »

  1. Another good post Tim. And thanks again for the updates yesterday, it was really the first time I’ve been on a position to take advantage of them.
    Looking forward to next week already.

    Like

    • Thanks, Paul – are you intending to get down to Ampthill…? Next week should be a game where we can get back to the type of rugby we played against Macclesfield and Loughborough…although we underestimate Blaydon at our peril..

      Like

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