Sun. Apr 18th, 2021

Very many thanks to everyone who took part in the Coventry v Old Albanian ‘Man of the Match’ poll over the weekend.

The results of the votes are as follows:

  1. Freddie Tuilagi – 27%
  2. Pete White – 24%
  3. Tom Jubb – 22%

So for the third time out (of the five polls in total) those who took part in the poll agreed with the sponsors’ choice  – Freddie Tuilagi.

Well done Freddie!I found deciding on the Man of the Match this week the hardest of the five so far.

Saturday’s was very much a team effort, as it always is, but this time without any standout performance that meant one person was always going to run way with the poll, as was the case with Scott Tolmie a couple of weeks ago. In the end, I opted for Freddie, but I wouldn’t have argued with either of the other two players, especially Tom Jubb who offers so much more than you expect from a second row forward.

TJ is such a mobile player for big lad and he often gets himself into positions where he can hurt the opposition by running at them and, whilst he’s not the quickest over 5 or 10m, once he’s in full flow he’s a hard man to stop. Quite whether he is doing what is expected of him as far as the coaches are concerned, I’m not sure, but he’s almost a fourth back rower given the yards he covers. He’s the stereotypical redhead, fiery and abrasive on the pitch, but always ready to say a hello off it, and just the sort of player you’d want on your side when the chips are down, provided he can keep his cool. I love watching him because things tend to happen when he’s around.

But I did give the nod to Freddie because after a couple of indifferent spells coming off the bench in previous games, he looked a completely different player against Old Albanian. After dropping what was a fairly straightforward pass in his own 22 early on, he seemed to grow in confidence and in defence in the second half his performance was at times frightening, with two jaw-dropping tackles that brought ‘Oohs’ from the crowd and left two OA players needing the ‘magic’ sponge. He times his tackles to perfection, a split second later and he would have been in trouble. However, there was absolutely nothing wrong his tackling out there on Saturday and such was the power behind them that, in the final quarter, a couple of the OA crowd were yelling at the referee to protect their players…

But it wasn’t just about the big hits. Freddie was surprisingly quick at times and although his defence was probably his strength, he also made some good yards, with it often taking two players to bring him down. He looked a natural 8 in a way that Darrel Dyer doesn’t. Darrel has been the most consistent of players this season but I’m sure he’s going to be more effective playing blind-side…? The combination of Darrel at 6 and Freddie at 8 is an appealing one and might be a possible solution to some of the general concerns that have been expressed about the back row so far this season.

Pete White had a solid game, without influencing the eventual outcome as much as he has sometimes done before. A quick tap in the first half led directly to a Cov try and his distribution when Cov was going forward was fast and slick; he kept moving the ball from left to right to keep the pressure on the opposition. He has a quick, flat pass which gives him an advantage over Rhodri Adamson and he’s clearly got a good rugby brain on him. Yes, there were a couple of wayward kicks, one that went out on the full, but in a game where everyone was making mistakes, he could be forgiven for that. He didn’t prod and probe quite as much as he has done in previous games, and he was able to make any of those sniping breaks we’ve seen in previous games. That said, once again he was the midfield general from whom so much of Coventry’s attacking play stemmed.

There were lots of errors out there on Saturday and we seemed to get turned over far too easily at times.  Tackles were missed, or not taken, and we didn’t seem to defend with any confidence, especially once the ball carrier was in any sort of space at all which was a worry. We still aren’t able to stop the opposition getting quick ball from the first couple of phases, something we must do if we are to prevent the opposition running into space. Instead of ‘chopping’, we tackled far too high a times which seemed ineffective against the wide runners coming at an angle across the defender making the tackle.

But equally, there was a lot that was good about our attack play and had we been a bit more judicious with a final pass or three, we would have been out of sight well before the final 10 minutes.  But without those errors, on both sides, the game wouldn’t have been half so entertaining; admittedly it would have been slightly less of a worry for the for the coaches, but that’s goes with the territory…

Darlington Mowden Park will be a challenge next weekend, that’s for sure. The sheer size of the stadium, the strange atmosphere it creates and the noise generated by the crowd were all a bit of a shock to the system when I watched Cov there last season…one of the poorer games in a poor season, too. Ali Bone, Rob Conquest and Tom Jubb all represented Darlington last season and I’m sure they will be hoping to be part of the match day squad.

Darlington had done their homework on us last season. Knowing that we had trouble when teams opted for the ‘catch and drive’ in our 22, whenever they won a penalty it was booted as close to the corner as possible and their forwards did the rest. It wasn’t pretty but it was mightily effective, and I remember Tom Jubb having a stormer against us, Rob Conquest scored a try and Ali Bone was part of a very effective back row. It was one of those games where we were winning up until the last 20 and then it all went rather pear-shaped.

A tough week ahead for the coaches and the players too, I imagine. Only two weekends left before the Christmas break and even those players who aren’t local to Coventry will be aware of the importance of the Moseley game and what it means to the supporters. I’m sure they will all want to be part of that final game of 2016. It’s going to be a big, big crowd (let’s hope the club pushes the boat out on the pre-match advertising for that one) and one hell of a way to begin the Christmas celebrations…


‘A recent thread on Rolling-maul was started with the poster asking the question, ‘Is getting to the Championship really worth it’?

It’s a valid question to ask, especially in the light of Jersey’s financial crisis and Richmond’s valiant, yet all-too-predictable, struggle to compete with other Championship teams that are fully professional whilst they themselves contain no full-time professional players within their ranks.

It’s an argument that is a purely academic one for us, given our current position. That said,  I think most supporters would prefer the club to take its chances in the Championship, trusting in good management and financial prudence combined with quality coaching and a full-time squad recruited within budget, to give us a decent chance of ensuring we avoid the drop in the first season and a painful return to National 1 just 12 months later.

If as a club you don’t aspire to be the best, you’ll end up stagnating and instead of progressing there will be every chance  you’ll struggle just to tread water. The Championship could prove a painful experience for any club promoted from National 1, but it would surely  provide challenges unavailable in the lower leagues. And if you don’t at least give it a go, then you’ll never know what might have been. If you’re going to be judged, then be judged against the best available.

In answer to that original question,  one poster responded by suggesting that:

Depends upon your clubs machismo tendencies. For the sane and sensible  competing but staying clear of the danger zones, top and bottom. Win and entertain at home, maximise the bonus points and endeavour to win away against any side below you in the table.

And I think for many supporters, and maybe clubs too, that might well be the height of their aspirations. Win your home games and win them well to ensure that you keep supporters coming back for more,  whilst trying to pick up the odd win away from home in order to consolidate your position in National 1. Make sure to keep yourself away from any end-of-season dogfight that often breaks out amongst the bottom four of five clubs come the end of the season.

And doesn’t that have a familiar ring to it?  Already with less than half a season gone, we have fallen into a similar pattern, winning games at the Butts, usually scoring plenty of points in the process, keeping most home supporters entertained whilst trying to target the weaker sides away from home. In the space of four months or so and with pretty much a new squad to bed in, Cov are already achieving what is the limit of some clubs’ aspirations.

I’m delighted to say that’s never going to be enough for most Coventry supporters, but it does show how aspirational we are. Unlike the comment from rolling-maul above, Coventry supporters will never ask for the mundane when there is a world out there waiting to be explored.

We know that the current management team are particularly ambitious and extremely focused, long term on promotion into the Championship  and whilst there are no time limits attached to this target, we also know they would take it sooner rather than than later. We are already performing, after just 14 games, at a level better than over half the other teams in the league.

We know from the coaches’ post-match briefings that our current away form is unacceptable (and even our home form after Saturday!) and the coaches are working hard with the players to do what needs to be done to put things right. Both the supporters and the Board want success at this club…but not at any cost, for sure. We have invested heavily in the club, but only within our budget and we will continue to do so in order to give Cov the best possible chance of success.

However, the problems is, of course, that there are enough other clubs in National 1 with the same drive and determination to get out of National as we have to make it that much harder than we would like it to be. But the buzz word at the moment coming out of the coaching team seems to be ‘journey’; we’ve only just started ours and whilst performances haven’t always been of the quality we might have hoped for, we’re on the right track and making decent progress along the way.

Next stop Darlington.

We desperately need another win away from home if only to let other teams in our league know that we are not prepared to be an also ran any longer. Amazingly, we are just a couple of wins (11 points – so a bit of poetic license there) off second place and with teams dropping points with monotonous regularity away from home, by the end of the Moseley game in two weeks time the table could look very different.

Everything to play for then…


By Tim

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