And if our last away game, against Hull Ionians, was a ‘must win’ game for Cov having lost all four previous attempts, then Ampthill is very much a ‘need to win’ one.
With four consecutive wins now to its name, Cov has got a bit of momentum building. Not a lot, but enough for the juggernaut to start rolling and with each win it picks up more speed.
And as it does so, Cov will become harder and harder to beat. And rather like in the Coca Cola Christmas advert…once we see the truck on the move…holidays are coming.
Get a head of steam up and I pity most clubs that get in the way of us once we’re motoring.
Success breeds success.
But Ampthill are a tough, tough side. If proof of that were needed, and it probably isn’t, then just ask Moseley, who would be matching Hartpury’s 100% record of 10 straight wins had it not been for their 28-8 defeat against today’s opponents.
That said, they have also lost to Darlington Mowden Park and Blackheath, so they are certainly beatable on home turf, but the enormity of the task shouldn’t be underestimated.
Cov have clearly done their homework on Ampthill and at training on Thursday the squad was practising plays it felt might either negate some of Ampthill’s strengths or provide us with the armoury to attack their perceived weaknesses. To say what they were doing would be inappropriate, but it was interesting to see how the training each week not only looks at specific areas of play (I’m fast becoming a bit of an expert on chop tackles), but also focuses on the opposition that weekend.
Ampthill finished 3rd in the table last season, a position well above us yet one at the start of the season we had expectations of surpassing ourselves. It was no mean effort on their part and they remain a real threat to any team in National 1, especially at Dillingham Park.
That’s why this is such a good test of just where we are at the moment. To the neutral, this could go either way, and I guess that’s the beauty of the fixture. We know we have the squad capable of coming away with the points, but what we don’t know is just which Cov side will turn up, the one that beat Hull Ionians, and so nearly defeated Moseley or the one that was humbled so easily by both Blackheath and Esher. The latter would be just too much to endure a third time.
Predictions on Rolling-maul.com are always worth a look as they give you a rough idea of what the general consensus is regarding the National 1 predicted outcomes each weekend. As of now, very late Friday evening, of the 43 people who have predicted a result for the game, 26 have gone for the home win and 17 for the away win.
Now given the teams are 6th and 5th in the league respectively, it would appear that the deciding factor for many who have opted for an Ampthill win is home advantage. However, I can’t help but feel that if we can go into half time within a score or two of Ampthill then, provided the elements don’t have a part to play in the second half, we could have the edge in the final 40. It’s another game that could go down to the wire and in all honesty, on paper at least, it is probably too close to call.
With the likes of Tolmie, Litchfield, Daynes, Adamson and Fenner to come off the bench though, we have real strength in depth and if and when the coaches decide to make changes, because they have all played regularly this season, the team are unlikely to lose their shape. Whilst rotating players does have its drawbacks sometimes, the real benefit is that everyone knows their place in the side and what is expected of them, so replacements take no time to adapt to the play.
According to Ampthill’s very own weather station, we can expect:
Between 0400 and 0700 becoming:-
Visibility: 8000 metres
Weather: light rain
Cloud: broken at 700 feet
From time to time between 0600 and 1800:
Visibility: 3000 metres
Weather: rain and drizzle
Cloud: broken at 200 feet
Between 1400 and 1800 (from time to time) there is a 40% chance of:
Visibility: 0300 metres
Cloud: broken at 100 feet
The less rain the better.
I can’t help but feel that the contest is going to be at his toughest when the game is played amongst the two sets of forwards.
Ampthill’s Polynesian contingent are still to be feared despite getting on in years and if it becomes a slugfest in the rain, wind and mud then I think it will result in a very tense affair and I’m not sure that’s the way we would necessarily want to play it. If we can turn their players every now and then, through some accurate kicking into the gaps behind them, or by running the ball back in broken play if they decide to kick deep in return, then the likes of Stokes, Knox, Hircock and Wheatcroft (and indeed Pete White) could give us a real advantage.
The other reason why I don’t fancy a wet afternoon is that Ampthill offers little or no protection for the spectators as it has no stand. Now I’m a bit of a wuss in some respects, preferring to sit to watch a game than being exposed to the elements. That said, you do get a completely different view of the game from close up, but if it’s wet and windy (and cold) anyone who follows my Twitter feed from the game is likely to encounter some pretty terse tweets as the game goes on, especially if the ageing fingers become frozen, so apologies for that in advance…
Hopefully, there’ll be food available at the ground and a chance for another Burger Watch review…I’d like to say it’s tight at the top, but sadly it’s not, with Istanbul still well out in the lead.
But for much how longer…?
If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me), all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end.
All this does depend on there being a signal from the ground of course…
Up the Cov!
Holidays are coming……
(Just so I can get the advert in)