Cambridge University v Coventry Nighthawks: a one-sided contest…?

Apparently, a nighthawk is:

a superb athlete who, courtesy of an alchemical potion, possesses mild super-strength and increased agility and durability from dusk till dawn. He has also used several costume aids, such as a jet-powered artificial wing system, artificial claw tips, lasers and projectile weapons *

As well as a bird, of course.

So, provided there’s no mandatory drug testing at this level, I don’t fancy Cambridge University’s chances that much…

Brain vs Brawn

Brawn every time.

A rather one-sided contest, really.

I did wonder if the announcement of the Nighthawks’ squad to face Cambridge University this evening would offer up any clues as to what the selection might be for the side to face Ampthill on Saturday.

Having now had a chance to look at it, I’m not sure it does, although there are one or two interesting things to come out of it.

The coaches have picked a squad of 27 for the mid-week game, 16 forwards and 11 backs.

Amongst those 27 are 6 players who are guesting for us, all in the forwards.

I’ve always wondered about what ‘guesting’ for a team actually means. Does it suggest, for instance, that Cov are having a look at a few players with a view to maybe some longer term interest, or does it simply infer that we are short of players in certain areas and have invited others in from elsewhere to fill the gaps?

I always hope for the former, but rather suspect it’s the latter.

I always  hope they are trialists in the belief that one day  perhaps Cov will unearth a real gem from somewhere during one of these Nighthawks’ games, someone who will go on to represent Coventry with distinction for many seasons and make a name for themselves and for the club.

However, the absence of any of our 6 front row specialists would suggest that it’s more a case of us using players from other clubs to supplement our own development players, Will Priestley and Jake Byrne. A quick check suggests that Charley Robinson, Des Brett,  Ben Holmes and Sam Nicholls are all specialists in that area. The fact that Des Brett is coming all the way from Southwold RFC maybe significant, though, as you’d imagine the coaches would call on more local clubs to help out?

I am surprised that Rob Conquest, Tom Poole and Tom Jubb are all in the squad with such an important game to come in just three days time. No one is going to play the full 80 minutes I imagine, but with Brendon Snyman a certainty to play against Ampthill,  one of the three will be alongside him with the option of also including Tom Jubb in the back row again. And in the back row, I imagine that Brett Daynes might be involved as well, although Darrel Dyer and Eoghan Grace are shoe-ins with maybe Sam Harry or Ali Bone also completing for the final spot. I thought Sam Harry might be involved later today, but maybe there’s a Wasps A game over the weekend.

Judging by this evening’s squad, selection in the backs for Saturday is far more straightforward, especially as I imagine only Rhodri Adamson and Dan Rundle from today’s squad would be in consideration for a place in the match day squad of 20 on Saturday.

Rhodri will be on the bench I imagine, but quite whether Dan will start is unclear. I rather imagine that Rob Knox (who looked to have had his best game out wide against Blaydon) and Corey Hircock will get the nod. Corey is someone in whom the coaches seem to place great faith, either at centre or out on the wing – he is such a consistent player and in the absence of Tom Howe and Owain Davies, I think he’ll be on the team sheet. That said, he could be selected alongside Tom Wheatcroft who has really begun to look the part since his return from injury.

No Cliffie, though?

I rather suspect that it might be that a second game so quickly after the first, having played so little rugby over the last season and a quarter, might be a worry for the coaches. Or perhaps they like the look of the possibilities his partnership with Tom Wheatcroft offers and want to give him another run out at 13?

One point of interest.

Both Dan Rundle and Max Trimble have been added to the 1st XV squad list on the Nuneaton RFC website. Click on Dan’s name and it lists Coventry as a ‘Previous Club’. Now it might be that there’s nothing in it at all and Nuns have just included both players in the squad because they have previously played a couple of times for them…as guests, though?

Or, maybe, Howe and Davies will be returning once Wasps’ LV games are over this weekend (?) and Cov have allowed both Dan and Max to play for Nuns over the remainder of the season. It just seems a little of odd really and it was only by chance that I happened to come across it whilst checking out the two Nuneaton players guesting for us tomorrow.

If Dan and Max are to play a few more games for Nuneaton, I suspect Cov will have the option to recall them as and when he is needed. The  absence of James Stokes (which was a big loss last weekend) shows just how such a situation might arise, especially as James Pritchard might not want to play a full 80 minutes too regularly.

It’s a shame the game is away this evening. Cambridge isn’t the easiest of grounds to get to so I’ll be sitting this one out, sadly. There’s some quality in there and depending on the starting line up, a second row of Jubb, Pool and/or Conquest, a back row of Bone, Povoas and/or Jubb and Daynes and a centre pairing of Smith and MacBurnie wouldn’t disgrace too many National 1 sides! Cambridge will be a very strong outfit but we’ll certainly make it a difficult evening for them.

I’m really pleased to see both Smith and MacBurnie playing again. I felt Sam Smith showed promise last season whenever Scott Morgan turned to him and with the support of the coaches this season, it will be interesting to see if he continues to develop as a player, even if he’s not getting the regular match practice that the others are. As for Callum, well he’s always been popular with supporters and has been a great clubman for a few years now. Hopefully, now he’s fit again his chance will come sooner rather than later.

A bit like Corey Hircock, you know Callum is never going to let you down…

Fortunately, the next two games are against a Moseley XV, home and away. Definitely ones for the diary.

The fact that there are usually going to be a number of regular first teamers playing in the mid-week Nighthawks games, alongside the promising youngsters that form the Development Squad is a real bonus and hopefully there will a couple of hundred turn up to watch them play and make a bit of noise to warm up the winter evenings.

And the lasers and projectile weapons could wreak havoc in the scrums…







2 thoughts on “Cambridge University v Coventry Nighthawks: a one-sided contest…?

  1. Hi Cliff – certainly that have been concerns over Dan when having to defend, and whilst I do agree that he has been found out on occasions, I still think that if the coaches can work with Dan, he has much that he can offer in the long term. The Wasps players have shown how important defence is in a winger’s armoury and it is something that he’ll need to work o if he is to play at this level. He has made one or two try scoring tackles tracking back which only he could have made given his pace. He has bags of flair and can be a real threat in attack if given the chance…it’s whether the coaches feel he’ll improve enough over the next few months to warrant another contract. He’s a crowd pleaser for sure, but he also needs to be a coach pleaser too

  2. Tim, it’s interesting that Nuneaton have Dan as being previously at Cov. I’m becoming increasingly aware of his defensive shortcomings which may well dictate that his days at Cov are numbered. He’s very good when going forward, particularly with ball in hand, but his defensive awareness and appropriate positioning are awful. A number of times against Blaydon he was so obviously out of position meaning that he left wide gaps exposed which a more alert team than Blaydon would have exploited with glee. He doesn’t seem to have learned that he can’t just rely on his speed when a try beckons, or when he tracks back to put in a try saving tackle. Frankly, if he’d been in position in the first place, he almost certainly wouldn’t have found it necessary to track back and to put in the try saving tackle.
    I have an uneasy feeling that he’s showing himself to not part fit into the game plan or of RW’s team plan for the future.
    It’s a shame, isn’t it, because there’s a buzz when Dan gets the ball, but there’s so much more to rugby that getting over the line to score a try? Which is why the try he scored on Saturday may well not have been enough to guarantee his future with Cov.

Any thoughts:

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