And probably just the right fixture for Cov, following last week’s second half humbling at the hands of Hartpury…
…how’s that for alliteration?
Esher did us over good and proper earlier in the season down at Molesey Road, winning 34-14 and nilling us in a comprehensive second half performance. We know exactly what they are capable of and if we regard them as anything less than a strong threat to our home record, we do so at our peril. It’s not a game we can afford to take lightly, but it is definitely one we would expect to win – the perfect opponents to welcome to the BPA after last weekend.
The Esher game, back in early October, was a significant one in many respects, being Cov’s fourth loss in the opening six games. Following the defeat, there was the beginnings of a build up of frustration amongst some supporters who feared that we were seeing little improvement on the pitch from the season before.
A loss the following weekend against Fylde would have been serious but from the Esher game onwards, Cov have since lost just three games in 13 and there’s a real sense of optimism now amongst most Cov fans and there is a growing belief that Cov are on the start of a lengthy journey, the vision of which was first spelled out by RW and Jon Sharp back in April at that first Members’ Forum.
Given the injuries we picked up last weekend, the two players released this week and the unavailability of the Academy players, this is a surprisingly strong team…and bench.
Good to see young Sam Harry back…it will be interesting to see whether he’s done enough to earn another year at Cov, presuming he’s on a one year contract. Whenever he’s played, he’s always had a decent game and he’s only going to get better with age. With the experience of Dyer and Daynes around him, he’s going to get plenty of support and whilst it’s always good to have the likes of a Jack Willis in your side, Sam looks as if he’s got the makings of a very good player at this level, if not beyond.
I’m most interested to see how effective the combination of Tom Jubb and Josh Peters is.
Suddenly Jubby is arguably the more senior of the second rows and with that comes additional responsibility – he certainly seems to have sorted out some of his earlier hot-headedness that saw him fall foul of the referee on several occasions and, whether deliberate or otherwise, he now has a chance to show the coaches just how much he has matured in the time he’s been with us.
He’s a bit of a maverick in some respects and perhaps isn’t the most technical of players. But, from a supporters point of view, he is always going to be popular because he has the potential to make things happen. He adds another option in attack and whilst I rather suspect sometimes he finds himself in places on the pitch he really has no right to be, his pace and handling means he’ll cause the opposition problems. With Josh Peters at 5, he’ll need to show plenty of responsibility and leadership which maybe he hasn’t always had to do when Tom Poole or Brendon Snyman have been playing alongside him.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how he gets on today.
The other player I’ll be watching closely is Rob Knox.
I do feel for Rob…18 months ago and we were talking about him in a similar way as we did Will Hurrell when he was here. I can’t help but think that an on form and fully fit Rob Knox would have been playing Championship rugby by now.
But for the last season and a half, if not longer, he has been plagued with injuries of varying descriptions and I do fear that unless Rob can prove his fitness over the coming weeks to the coaches, he’ll be another player who is asked to move on. 7 starts (and 11 appearances) in what will be 20 games after today is not the sort of record that is going to guarantee him a contract, yet we all know what he is capable of and even in those 7 starts we have seen glimpses of what he could bring to this side if fit.
If his injury is something that can be sorted over the summer break, in a similar way to Pete White’s was earlier this season (although a totally different problem, of course), then I’d take the risk; the last thing we want is Rob Knox snapped up by Moseley or Plymouth and coming back to haunt us next season. I’ll have everything crossed for Rob when he gets his opportunity tomorrow.
Hopefully, Tom Wheatcroft will get a run in the side now and begin to show the kind of form that persuaded RW to bring him here this season. He’s another player who has been unlucky with injuries, making just 9 starts (and only 11 appearances in total).
79 appearances for Ealing on the other hand, many of which will have been in the Championship, make him very useful and whilst he has impressed at times when he’s played, I don’t think we’ve yet seen the best of him yet. His partnership with Will Maisey, who has really shown his versatility over recent weeks, could be crucial in opening up Esher today.
And there there’s the return of Devlin Hope to the BPA for Esher…although he’s on the bench, hopefully he’ll get on before Matt Price comes off – that could be some contest!
I really rated Dev and whilst he might not have been, by his own admission, the greatest of scrummagers, he was always noticeable either at the breakdown or in attack. Whilst the club’s preview of the game rightly points out Dev made 22 appearances for Cov last season, only 7 of them were starts.
I always thought he deserved more…
…should be a tasty encounter, that one.
Happy to see Dev have a good game, as long as he’s on the losing side – I know what his mum will be doing this afternoon…
One of the targets that the coaches have set the squad over the remaining games is to avoid losing to any other team twice this season, following a second defeat at Hartpury. Esher is a game, therefore, that will be of particular importance to the coaches and Coventry will certainly be up for it.
Cov supporters were brilliant last weekend and if they can get behind Cov early on again this afternoon, I can’t help but think Cov will end the game with the bonus point and a sizeable lead over their visitors.
Dan Rundle’s departure has come as something of a relief to me, in the nicest possible way.
It hasn’t worked for him this season and it has been pretty clear for the last few weeks that he wasn’t going to feature much, if at all, in the remaining games. Dan is one of the most charismatic players to have worn the Coventry shirt for many a year and those who watched him breakthrough into the team following a serious injury to Dom Lespierre a couple of seasons ago will remember the impact he had both on the team and on the crowds who watched him.
It was very much a purple period for Dan and at the end of the 2015/16 we all looked forward to watching him continue to create panic in opposition defences the following season. Of course it wasn’t to be and, following a lengthy recovery from a broken leg, he hasn’t really be able to recapture the form he showed back in 2015/16. Although he only had 6 starts under Rowland Winter, he struggled to fit in with the style of rugby Cov set out to play and, rightly or wrongly, questions were asked of him defensively.
Once James and Howe arrived at the club, it became increasingly difficult to find a place in the team for him and Dan just isn’t the sort of player you put on the bench.
At the moment he appears to be enjoying his time at Stourbridge, where he’s making all the headlines, scoring tries and terrorising defences. I’m delighted he’s playing regularly and I am sure there will be teams already seeking his services in National 1 next season. Those who know him personally speak very fondly of him and I can see how good he would be in his role as a member of the community team. Kids will love him…
All the best to Dan, and his dad, Jeff…
And a word, too, for Rob Conquest…a player who we didn’t get to see enough of.
I remember him from the game up at Darlington where he and Tom Jubb cleaned us out in the lineout and was excited when his arrival here was first announced. However, Given he hasn’t been getting the opportunities here, it makes sense for him to return to DMP – good to see the club respecting the interests of the player and allowing him to go at this stage of the season.
With Snyman and Conquest now gone, presumably one of the player announcements next week will be a second row – that would certainly seem to make sense to me.
A quick shout out for World Cancer Day on Feb 4th.
No need for me to stress the importance of the day but if you want to contribute to the cause, whilst also purchasing what will undoubtedly become a near-compulsory fashion accessory for any self-respecting Cov supporter, then you could do worse than buy one of Cancer Research’s ‘Unity Bands’.
At £2 each and in a choice of colours, they look the business, especially in blue and white (there’s also one in pink and white which would have been brilliant had last year’s away shirt every materialised, so-to-speak).
The clip is magnetic and the whole thing is of a surprisingly good quality.
Available from your local Cancer Research Charity Shop…
(Sam – if you’re reading this before the game, I’ve got one for you!).é
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.
Up the Cov