Club talk

Hull revisited, team confidence, the match day programme and rotating the coach managers…

Hull Ionians v Coventry

Key moments

10:00  Try James scores for Coventry
14:00   Try James scores for Coventry
15:00   Conversion Maisey kicks a conversion for Coventry
21:00   Try White scores for Coventry
22:00   Conversion Maisey kicks a conversion for Coventry
34:00   Try Ali Thomson scores for Hull Ionians
35:00   Conversion Isaac Green kicks a conversion for Hull Ionians
39:00   Try White scores for Coventry
39:00   Conversion Maisey kicks a conversion for Coventry 
41:00   Try Laurence Cowen scores for Hull Ionians
42:00   Conversion Greg Lound kicks a conversion for Hull Ionians
68:00   Try Wheatcroft scores for Coventry
68:00   Conversion Maisey kicks a conversion for Coventry
71:00    Try Howe scores for Coventry
71:00    Conversion Maisey kicks a conversion for Coventry
79:50   Try Sam Wilson scores for Hull Ionians
79:59    Conversion Greg Lound kicks a conversion for Hull Ionians

I thought the above was a very simple but effective way of detailing key moments of Saturday’s game against Hull Ionians. It’s easy enough to follow the pattern of the game and is a pretty accurate representation of the periods of the play where each team was in the ascendancy.

In the first half Coventry dominated the opening 25 minutes. Hull Ionians then  had a good spell for nearly 10 minutes, leading to their opening try. Coventry responded quickly with Pete White’s scoring his second. Once again following the half time break, we let the opposition in for an early try and for the next 20 minutes or so the game was fairly even, with each team having its chances before Tom Wheatcroft sealed the victory with the first of two quick tries in a  four minute flurry. Hull Ionians come on strongly at the end (not helped by our own ill-discipline) and they scored what was probably a deserved third try (although it was getting on for 7 minutes of injury time when Wilson actually touched down).

I’d like to say this was my idea, but actually I’ve filched it from Hull Ionians’ own website, adding the colours of the two teams to make it visually even clearer to follow. I hope they won’t mind, especially as I’m giving them the credit for it. I rather expect that it’s been used elsewhere but I have to say I’m really taken with it and if I can remember, I’ll try and do something similar for Cov’s game against Blaydon. (Sam doesn’t know this yet,  but I’m thinking of asking him to jot down the times and the scorers as they happen as I expect I’ll be too busy ‘tweeting’…!).

It’s certainly an excellent starting place for anyone trying to find out a bit about the game, especially when your team is playing away from home and there’s a lot less information available. Match reports often have the times of scores included, but it’s visually far more interesting set out this way.

Hull Ionians’ match report is worthy of a read -it’s a very fair one, too.

If anything, Hull sell themselves a little short…certainly they showed resolve in abundance but in their right wing and back row they possessed players who caused us real problems and our ‘largesse’ was partly down to Hull’s tenacity and never-say-die approach to the game.

The comment on Coventry looking ‘every inch full-time professionals’ is probably just Hull reminding everyone of the financial gulf between the two clubs, but it’s a gulf that exists so they can hardly be criticised for commenting on it.

During the opening 20 minutes Coventry looked every inch full-time professionals, and one of the pre-season favourites, as they dominated proceedings to establish a thoroughly deserved three try advantage. That they didn’t run away with the match says much for the home sides resolve and Coventry’s largesse as Ionians battled hard to restrict the visitors ambitions.

That said, Coventry look like a side that are going to cause serious damage to some unlucky side before too long,  provided it can produce that elusive 80 minute performance. We got close to it against Fylde but even then we lost momentum a little during both the first and second halves to allow them to score when we were pretty much in control. If we can stay focused for the full game and if our discipline holds, then when we win, we’ll win big.

Already we’ve got three 50 points victories under our belts without actually playing to our full potential. Okay, it’s easy to get carried away, but confidence is such a strong factor in Cov’s psyche – it always has been.

Last season was a classic example – strong squad, perhaps not as strong as we’d been led to believe, but still strong and a far better one than the 8th place finish would suggest and yet…

…once we’d  had a couple of poor results, head’s dropped and there weren’t the leaders either on the coaching front or in the squad to turn things round. And having seen Cov this season, I really do believe a lot of last season’s problems were down to factors other than simply the ability of the players on the pitch.

The likes of Price, Poole, Brown, MacBurnie, Pailor, Le Roux, Jones, Evans at al. would have been different players under the present coaching structure (even as part-timers) but once the wheels started to wobble, there was no one there to tighten them up, so off they dropped. That’s not a dig at Scott Morgan, Phil Maynard and co, just an acceptance that RW and his team appear far more savvy about the importance of sports psychology and the ability to keep players motivated.

It’s an opinion, that’s all.

Nothing more.

I always enjoy watching the players warm up before the game…whilst many supporters make for the clubhouse for a pint and a chat, I just happy to watch the match day squad go through its preparations and rituals before the game. Many players  have their own individual routines  and you can often judge the mood of the team by the intensity of the final 25 minutes or so leading up to the game.

I mention this because it refers back to the point I made earlier about having leaders on the pitch. Eoghan Grace and Tom Wheatcroft are quite vocal as the clock nears 3.00 pm and it’s not hard to see why the coaches opted to choose them to share the role of club captain. They always encourage others and are a real presence…

In contrast, great player that he was, more so in 2014/15 though to be fair, Wayne Evans didn’t seem to relish being club captain and once George Tresidder arrived on the scene, we didn’t see a great deal of Wayne again, even after he’d recovered from injury. He would lead by example for sure, but there aren’t too many occasions when I can remember him urging his team on, or the crowd for that matter.

So, to get back to my original point re: confidence (sorry – I got totally side-tracked there!). The self-belief brought on by a decent run of results can make all the difference between the games we might have lost when things weren’t going too well and the games we’ll  win because there’s a belief that the team can turn things around, even if  it finds itself very much on the back foot going into the final quarter.

In the 18 game unbeaten run back in 2014/15, a number of the games were really close, including 2 draws  and several others which might otherwise have been lost had the team not had so much confidence in their own ability to see a game out. And that wasn’t always the case last season…games we could and should have won were lost because there was little confidence and no leadership.

So, with a bit of momentum and a run of good results, I reckon Cov could find themselves within striking distance of Moseley come December 17th.

Now wouldn’t that be something…the final game before Christmas against Moseley and we have to win to go above them in the table?

Now there’s an incentive…if ever one was needed.

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

The match day programme.

This is probably going to upset a number of people, especially within the club, but I have say, I’m not convinced it’s that much of an improvement on last season’s.

Heresy I know, especially as someone’s probably worked very  hard to put it all together. Hopefully, there will be a few comments in defence of it and I can put  any further thoughts /suggestions to bed. However, given no one seems to have offered any comment on what is such an important part of the pre-match build up for many spectators, I thought I’d just throw it out there and see if there’s any response. Maybe everyone feels it’s a big improvement, in which case I’ll move on…

It’s almost certainly a me thing, so I’m going to tread carefully here, but at £3 it doesn’t seem to offer a great deal more value than in previous seasons, with relatively little additional content, just a couple of more articles (one of which usually appears on the website anyway…?) and the traditional ones expanded to fit the bigger page.

Although I did very much enjoy Ali Bone’s ‘Movie Star XV’…

I was going to offer up a Supporters’ XV until I realised I’d have to put myself in as a prop, at which point I threw away the remaining half of the burger and just ate the chips and avoided shop windows for the rest of the weekend.

With several other clubs offering a programme as part of the price of entry into the ground, or at a nominal cost of £1 or so, a £3 programme ought to be a good read as well as a point of reference for team news.

…happy to be proved wrong…

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

I imagine on the back of three good wins, training this week will be somewhat easier to oversee for the coaches than perhaps it was after we’d had the three consecutive losses. Team selection this will be particularly interesting given the probable departure of the Wasps’ players.

With Blaydon arguably one of the weaker teams to visit Coventry this season, will Rowland Winter ring the changes aside from the wings, especially as there are players returning from injury as well as the likes Tom Jubb, Tom Poole, Ali Bone and James Pritchard who must be itching for a recall?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get down to training on Thursday and see what the mood is like, although I can’t believe it won’t be anything but buoyant right now.

As is the mood amongst supporters.

Apparently, the Supporters’ Club coach to Ampthill a week on Saturday is already starting to fill up, so if you are hoping to travel down by coach it would be as well to book your seats sooner rather than later.

On a personal note, I haven’t as yet had any communication from the club, but it can’t have gone unnoticed that Cov’s first away win of the season coincided with my role as Coach Manager for the day.

I’m sure the club will be disappointed to learn that someone else will be Coach Manager for the next game; having seen how well it works for the team, we are also rotating personnel for this key role.

My stats have fallen somewhat after my performance on Saturday, with my fitness levels being worrying low.  I’ve been told I won’t be considered for selection in two weeks time and that in addition to some extra training,  I can expect to be loaned out to a rival club shortly.

I’ve also picked up a slight injury  – a case of texter’s finger following the updates during the game – so I’ll be looking to get some rehab at some stage soon.

However, we’ve got plenty of strength in depth and it will give a chance for one of the more senior members of the team to get a run out…

Ingleston, Hood, Melhuish?

Chairman Cliff Bennett is blessed with plenty of options…

Or maybe he could do a Rowland Winter and go left of field and opt for Harrison…

More to follow…

 

4 replies »

  1. Yep, I’m afraid it’s going to be me. I’ll be coach manager for the Ampthill game. The pressure on me now is enormous. I’m beginning to wonder whether I should quit whilst I’m ahead.

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    • Praise be to the Lord, indeed…verily I say unto you, we are in the best of hands. The good shepherd will look after his flock and there will be peace and goodwill unto all men…and women…and children. I shall gird myself in sackcloth and ashes for the trip down to Ampthill and pray to the great god of Rugby to show beneficence towards Brother Cliff

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