Club talk

Fylde: under ‘T’ for Testing…

And so to Fylde…

…and a trip up to the Lancashire coast that will severely test a Coventry side that has struggled all season to find any sort of consistency away from home.

Indeed, Coventry’s last away game, against Hartpury, ended in a 50-19 defeat to the irrepressible Hartpury College, despite what was an encouraging first 40 minutes.

That said, a cursory glance at the current National One table would suggest that Coventry should be clear favourites to win the game and win convincingly. Cov have won twice as many games this season as Fylde and,  with a points difference of +118 to Fylde’s -231, everything suggests a reasonably comfortable victory for visitors.

And as the adage goes, the table never lies.

But in this case, it can be a little misleading…

National One 16/17 League table

# Club P W D L PF PA PD 4T L<7 Points P/M
7 Coventry

Coventry

20 12 1 7 614 496 118 9 1 60 3
13 Fylde

Fylde

20 6 14 459 690 -231 9 3 36 1.8

Look a little deeper into Fylde’s form this season and you’ll begin to see plenty there to suggest that Coventry are going to find Fylde tough opposition, very tough indeed…

One more than capable of making life extremely difficult for us and ensuring that whatever else, Saturday’s encounter will prove a lot closer than Coventry’s 53-24 win against them back in mid-October.

Fylde are one of the many sides that don’t travel well, in fact they lie bottom of the ‘Away’ league with no wins from ten games.

It’s pretty clear, then, that with six wins from ten home games, Fylde are a totally different proposition at Woodlands Memorial Ground.

And suddenly, armed with that information, it becomes a completely different game…

The tables are, quite literally, reversed and it’s Cov that becomes something of the underdog, with Fylde averaging nearly 28 points a game at home and Coventry just over 19 on their travels and lying a lowly eleventh in the ‘Away’ league table.

One of the few statistics in Coventry’s favour is that whilst teams have scored an average of nearly 24 points a game against us on our travels, for Fylde it’s over 27 at home…

The phrase ‘clutching at straws’, springs to mind perhaps…?

National One 16/17 Home v Away league table

# Club P W D L PF PA PD 4T L<7 Points P/M
8 Fylde

Fylde

10 6 4 277 274 3 7 2 33 3.3
11 Coventry

Coventry

9 2 1 6 172 260 -88 2 12 1.33

Unfortunately, Fylde hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us at all in recent years, with just one win in the last 5, with a couple of them being something akin to a drubbing.

It doesn’t auger well, if truth be told.

Date Home club Score Away club Competition
15-Oct-2016 Coventry 53 – 24 Fylde National One 16/17
06-Feb-2016 Fylde 25 – 14 Coventry National One 15/16
17-Oct-2015 Coventry 24 – 36 Fylde National One 15/16
11-Apr-2015 Fylde 44 – 28 Coventry National One 14/15
06-Dec-2014 Coventry 62 – 31 Fylde National One 14/15

It just needs Ollie Brennand to find a bit of form and the scenario is complete…great player Ollie, he and Phil Chesters (Ealing) always seem to be able to turn it on when playing Cov. He’s not been a regular this season though, so, in the nicest possible way, fingers crossed…

However, I am ever the optimist and there are signs that Coventry are beginning to put together a string of half decent results (aside from Hartpury) and even when they haven’t always played well, they have dogged it out to come away with the points.

Cov might not always play the kind of fluid, attacking rugby that the coaches are working so hard to achieve, but I’d rather Cov won ugly than not at all.

Rowland Winter spoke of his disappointment last weekend at Coventry’s performance against Esher, seeing it as a ‘step backwards’ from the previous week against Hartpury and, before that, against Blackheath at home.

He’d expected a reaction from the Hartpury game, where we had played so well in the first half only to be undone by their power and flair as well as suffering key injuries and yellow cards…

Expected it, but not seen it.

RW’s post matching comments were pretty damning – and remember this was following what was, after all, a Coventry win:

We missed tackles, we weren’t manning up, we weren’t communicating, and we weren’t working together – we had no trust in each other, and people were going off script individually. We just weren’t anywhere close to the work we’ve been putting in in training.

I can only imagine what was said when the players met up on Monday…but I am fairly sure his words will be ringing in the ears of the players who run out onto the pitch at 3.00 pm this Saturday.

Players off script…never great, but at this time of year, when contracts are up for renewal? Once might be careless…

…but twice..? Surely the team will have learned their lesson?

Even Brendan Burke waded in, saying something not too dissimilar to what his Director of Rugby had said after the game.

I think we looked very flat coming on to the pitch, the lads just weren’t mentally right and showed that in the first half when they didn’t front up.

and most tellingly of all…

We were carrying a few lads

Not what you want to hear as a supporter and definitely not as a player. Brendan Burke rightly mentioned, though, Cov’s tendency to be ‘outstanding’ one week and ‘appalling’ the next.

Appalling last week, so hopefully outstanding this week…

In the excellent preview of this weekend’s game against Coventry on their website, Fylde quite rightly suggest that:

If Fylde have punched above their collective weight in the last five years, Cov have under performed, much to the frustration of their considerable spectator base. Nevertheless, they are still the best supported club in National One

Fylde RFC’s preview of this weekend’s fixture against Coventry

…supporting Coventry hasn’t been easy these last couple of decades and there is a degree of frustration that now comes with the territory…a club with plenty of ambition and aspiration, in a far better financial situation than for many a year and with the intention of being a Championship side in the not too distant future. The arrival of Rowland Winter and such a strong group of coaches, together with squad that has produced some irresistible rugby on occasions, yet on others has flattered to deceive…

…well, it’s bound to be frustrating at times.

Everyone is anxious to see Cov show a little more consistency and be a little closer to the top three than they currently are.

But it will come.

And, if training has been anywhere near as concentrated and focused as I imagine it will have been following last weekend’s comments from the coaches, then you can bet there will be an improved performance from a Coventry side that I’m sure will want to prove a point…or, hopefully, five.

So I’m certainly expecting a reaction on Saturday and whilst Coventry’s away form has been poor this season, to put it mildly, I’m looking forward to seeing us far more competitive across all areas of the pitch. If Cov come out firing from the start and don’t lose their shape and stick to the game plan, well it could be a difficult afternoon for Fylde…if we are anything but that, and as we’ve seen rather too often already this season, Coventry could make it very difficult for themselves.

Coventry can be a match for anyone in this league when we get it right, even Hartpury whom, for three of the four halves of rugby we played against them, struggled to break us down. Wins against Moseley, Plymouth and Blackheath have shown even at this very early stage in the team’s development, just what it is capable of but…

…and there is a big but…

…on their day Fylde are precisely the sort of team Cov need to fear.

Any weaknesses on our part, any chinks in our defences and Fylde will exploit them. And that’s what I have enjoyed about Fylde in recent years, they play rugby not just to win, but also to entertain.

I’ve always left the ground having watched Fylde with the impression that if I ever I came back in another life and found myself a supporter a club other than Cov, then I’d be happy for it to be Fylde.

Their willingness to throw caution to the wind and run the ball from anywhere on the pitch is always exciting to watch, if not a little suicidal at times, and they are capable of turning a game on it’s head in just a few passages of play. Even in the game at ours earlier in the season, Fylde still scored three tries and always looked capable of scoring more. At half time, Coventry only had a narrow 22-17 lead.

If Coventry are at all profligate, as they were last week when missed tackles, poor passes and wasted kicks almost lost us the game, then Fylde are more than capable of capitalising on our errors.

It’s certainly going to be a tough test for a Coventry side will be keen to make amends for last week, especially as Rowland Winter and everyone else up there on Saturday will be looking for that, at times, elusive performance from the team, just as much as a result.

I’m certainly looking forward to the trip up to Lytham on the supporters’ coach.

I’m sure it will be an entertaining game, whatever the result  played in front of two great sets of  supporters…

Lovely people, Lancastrians…

…I have to say that.

I’m married to one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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