Club talk

Making a fool of myself…Plymouth Albion throw down the gauntlet, but not for this season…poll

Well, I made it to training last night…

…but, sadly, Cov didn’t.

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Apparently, the team had opted not to train yesterday as they are travelling down to Plymouth today, something which perhaps I should have thought through.

Much to my chagrin, I tweeted a message which suggested I was a little on the frustrated side as I walked back to the station to get the train home.

In my defence, it was cold…

I’m not sure what my reason behind the tweet was, other than probably just to make myself feel better.

giphy7Not one of my finest, I’ll grant you…

…and made even worse because those nice people @CoventryRugby got back straight away to explain the situation, as did John Wilkinson – making me feel pretty mean-spirited.

And just to add insult to injury, on my return home, I found that EyesRight had, very thoughtfully, left me a note on the Messageboard in the afternoon to say he thought training might be cancelled…

D’oh – if only I’d checked there first.

Embarrassed?

Just a little.

However, some good news came of it…

…I managed to walk past Istanbul’s on the way to and from the ground without giving way to temptation and gorging myself with a burger and/or fries (and, if I’m honest).

Which means. I think I can safely say the diet’s officially started- so there’s every chance I can get into the budgie-smugglers for June, when Sue and I take the grandchildren on holiday.

No beached-whale impressions this year.

So, happy days after all

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

plymouthThere was an interesting preview of the Coventry game published in the Plymouth Herald yesterday.

I say preview, but in reality it was as much about Head Coach (and current fly-half) Kieran Hallett’s  thoughts on the remainder of this season and indeed next season, as it was about the Coventry game.

With Hartpury seemingly unstoppable this season, there isn’t a great deal to play for and whether Plymouth come second or fifth is of little consequence to Hallett as he is far more interested in the bigger picture – promotion next season.

But Hallet has said that he is aiming for promotion next season and he can use this season to gauge which players are able to help him achieve that goal.

Hallet said, I have said it before, my goal is to win the league next year, not finish second this year.

That’s not that dissimilar to what Rowland Winter has been saying in some respects…for Cov’s DoR, this season has never been about winning the league and whilst he hasn’t put a date to it, RW’s goal is very much about a steady build to promotion over a number of seasons.

Perhaps not quite as quickly as Plymouth have opted for, though.

My guess would be that, behind closed doors, Cov will be targeting the 2018/19 season, with a top two or three finish next year – but the principle is the same. Where either team finishes this season isn’t as important as what the season brings in terms of laying solid foundations for the future.

Plymouth have clearly set their stall on Tier 2 rugby in 18 months time – and who’s to say that, without any relegation from the Championship into National 1 at the end of this season, such a target isn’t attainable. Plymouth have had a good first half to this season and a win over Coventry tomorrow would probably move them into second place…so they are certainly giving themselves a strong starting point from which to launch their bid for promotion in 2017/18.

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To come away with a win tomorrow would be a massive result for Coventry.

Plymouth have only lost the once at home, a narrow 24-27 defeat to…Hartpury College.

No surprise there.

And there’s the warning for Cov – having had a similar sort of result, and performance by the sound of it, at home against Hartpury, Coventry went up to Hartpury full of confidence and, well, we know only too well what unfolded that afternoon. We’ve beaten Plymouth at home…but that means little when we taken them on tomorrow at Brickfields.

To be fair, Hallett makes all the right noises, claiming:

Plymouth will have to be at their best if they are to claim anything from Coventry at Brickfields on Saturday

and then goes on to mention how Coventry are one of the few teams to beat Plymouth this season on their travels, judging Cov as a ‘decent’ side’, one that plays some ‘really good stuff’ at times.

Now when I first read the word ‘decent’, it came across as a bit glib and patronising – but on reflection that’s because I’m Cov through and through and still find it hard for others to speak of Cov in those terms.

Decent suggests ‘ok’ or ‘satisfactory’…kind of ‘average’.

Coventry an ‘ok’ side? Come on…

But then I look at the table and see we’re in 7th place – mid-table mediocrity, half way down the league, so pretty ‘average’.

Decent in fact…

And that hurts…

We will be 4th or 5th by the end of the season, at least , but even so, he’s absolutely right. At the moment we’re no better than decent.

We’re probably a year behind where Plymouth currently are, but we’re getting there and our home record matches theirs. We just can’t perform on our travels…

…so away to Plymouth, given how we’ve performed on the road this season, is one hell of an ask.

A quick look at the Prediction League on the Unofficial Messageboard shows that of the 23 people who have so far made their predictions, 14 have gone for the home win and another 4 for the draw (I presume because they can’t bring themselves to opt for the Coventry defeat) and just the five for the Coventry win.

Now I just can bring myself to predict anything other than a Coventry victory, a question I’m afraid of heart ruling head. Even though I know Coventry are odds-on to get little or nothing from the game, I just can’t predict a loss – so at least one of those 5 is a ‘spoiled voted’ so-to-speak.

It’s clear that supporters are being realistic for this one…

But…

…the annoying thing is, Coventry are more than capable of turning Plymouth over tomorrow, and in some style, but there’s almost some sort of mental block there now preventing them from playing with the same sort of freedom that we’ve seen at times back at the Butts.

If you examine Plymouth’s results over the last few weeks, many of them have been tight games and that’s something that could well give Cov an edge…

  • 17-20 (W) Darlington
  • 29-21 (W) Fylde
  • 13-18 (W) Old Albanian
  • 29-7 (W) Esher
  • 10-17 (L) Rosslyn Park
  • 24-27 (L) Hartpury

Plymouth haven’t been a particularly free-scoring side of late (kiss of death, that one) and if Cov can unlock what is obviously a pretty parsimonious defence, then they’re in with a shout. In players like Knox, Stevens, Trimble, Stokes and Maisey (and Tolmie) they have the firepower to do that, and in the forwards, the means to get the ball to them.

Too often, though, Cov have set themselves up for a strong away performance in the first 40-50 minutes only to switch off for the next 10-15 and undo all the hard work that has gone before, especially away from home.

With injuries beginning to take their toll, it will be interesting to see how the team lines up tomorrow… James Stokes looked to be struggling when he came off last week and his absence would be a blow. Hopefully, though, James or Howe might become available following the last of Wasps’  Anglo-Welsh fixtures  last week, or possibly even Jack Willis, although he might bench against Exeter in the Premiership fixture against Exeter on Saturday. We could certainly use them tomorrow…

If the belief is there, truly there, then Cov are more than capable of beating a strong Plymouth side, but it will take an 80 minute performance from them to get anything from the game, something that we have yet to come close to away from home.

And just for the record…

…I’ve predicted Cov to win 27-37.

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If you haven’t yet taken part in the current poll, please do give it a go.

12 months ago, I included a poll in a post that was entitled ‘Coventry priorities – Feb 2016’, a post which asked readers to prioritise key areas of focus for the club, as selected from various discussion threads on the Messageboard and elsewhere.

Much of the discussion amongst supporters back then centred around ten key areas of concern…these were the dominant themes running through supporters’ comments over the preceding couple of months prior to the poll and the ones that had generated the most responses.

In order to get a feel of the general consensus amongst readers as to whether progress in these key areas has indeed been made, I’ve included the same poll as last year to see just how much, if at all, response to the areas has changed.

Please highlight in the appropriate spaces a maximum of 4 of the 8 options that you think should be the most important focus for the club at the moment, given the obvious constraints.

If you feel there are only one or two areas that need prioritising, please limit yourself to just the two choices. Should you feel that there are other, significant, areas that the club should be addressing, please type them into the blank space provided and I’ll include these, in addition to the results.

It should be interesting just to see where supporters feel progress has been made and what areas still need addressing.

Many thanks for taking part…

Tim

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