‘Everyday is a winding road’ – Cambridge v Coventry
Jump in, let’s go
Lay back, enjoy the show
Everybody gets high, everybody gets low,
These are the days when anything goes
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine
Sheryl Crow – Every Day Is A Winding Road
There haven’t been too many away games this season that have lived up to expectations. Just three wins and a draw and none of them particularly convincing, even the 19-25 win at Blaydon.
A good performance, as was the win against Hull before Christmas but, in the end, tight enough to make the final minutes a little too close for comfort.
Yet here I am, worryingly confident that Coventry will come away with the win, five points and a performance that will be a far cry from some of those we have seen this season, especially before Christmas.
The home game against Cambridge back in November was arguably Cov’s most dominant performance of the season, a convincing 55-12 win in which we never really took our foot of the gas, at least not in the way that we did at home against the likes of Old Albanian, Hull or even Plymouth.
I have to admit, though, to being something of a masochist when it comes to watching Coventry home or away…
…to misquote Mel Brookes – watching Cov ‘is like pizza or sex, even when it’s done bad it’s still good’.
I’m not sure whether it was the context of the first Cambridge game that focused Coventry on the day, or just the fact that everything came together to produce such a commanding display, or even a combination of the two, but it was an impressive performance against a team that have surprised many this season, myself included.
Newly promoted and having lost their DoR and some key players, Cambridge might have expected to be in a relegation battle come this stage of the season. That they aren’t suggests that they are a team that mustn’t be underestimated. Indeed, many of their defeats have been close affairs.
Yet I do think this might be an away game where we produce a performance commensurate with our ability and ambition…something we just haven’t managed to do on our travels as yet.
Having seen most of the away games, for me the two best performances have been away at Plymouth and in the first half against Hartpury where we actually had the equal, if not beating, of both teams. Blaydon was a very encouraging result, but against a team that isn’t anywhere as competitive as either Plymouth or Hartpury.
I really do believe we have turned a corner now away from home.
I know I am tempting fate here and this could come back to haunt me, but in the last two or three games outside of the BPA we have played the game more in the forwards than earlier in the season, playing more to our strengths and being far more selective (and effective) when running the ball.
I’m sure the consistency in selection is helping, with players becoming far more confident in each others’ game and with the more experienced players taking the lead under the guidance of Phil Boulton who has been handed the captaincy and certainly made his mark on the team
Whilst results away from home have been improving, more importantly so have the performances, both team and individual.
It seems to me that since Christmas the likes of Poole, Jubb, Povoas, Tuilagi, Knox and Maisey have grown in confidence and stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge alongside the likes of the front row, Dyer, White (despite his late start to the season), Stokes and Fenner all of whom been pretty consistent performers all season.
The acquisition of Heath Stevens from London Welsh has also been something of a catalyst and, with him in the side, the defence has looked far more solid amongst the backs, although that also might partly be down to the fact that we aren’t playing quite the cavalier, expansive rugby that we opted for back in September and October.
Cambridge are going to be up for today’s game, of that I’m certain.
They will still be smarting from that first encounter back in November and in front of what I’m sure will be a larger than average home crowd, they will want to prove a point or two (or four or five to be exact).
However, realistically, Coventry will have to have one of their not infrequent off days this season for Cambridge to prosper, and even then they might have to play particularly well to win.
If, as I’m anticipating, Cov are indeed fired up for this one, then after a cagey opening 20 minutes, I do think we’ll look to get the ball out wide and when there’s width to our game the likes of Stokes, Howe, Knox and Stevens are as good as any in our league outside of Hartpury. Maisey was on fire against Ampthill and if he and Sam Grasso can control the game as much as they did that day, and with the forwards supplying a similar quality of ball, then you have to fancy our chances.
We saw little from Cambridge when they played us earlier in the season and that worries me slightly in that they are obviously a far better team than the result that day suggests. They put 46 points past Fylde in their last game, away from home, winning convincingly. Our 33-24 defeat up there, back in February, was another of those games in which we gave away a comfortable lead early in the second half and in fact since that defeat we have looked a far better side.
There will be those reading this who are somewhat less optimistic about this afternoon, but we are due a real performance away from home and I just feel today might be the day we see it.
I’m not altogether sure as yet whether I’ll be able to get to the game, but it is certainly one that I’ve had on my radar for a while now. The Cambridge supporters seem extremely friendly and welcoming and I am sure those making the journey down (or across?) to Cambridge will be made to feel most welcome. The return of Roland Winter, Brendan Burke, James Stokes and Brett Daynes (plus Corey Hircock if he travels down with the players) will be sure to attract some extra attention.
RW created something special at Cambridge…it would be nice to think he is undertaking something similar at Coventry. Maybe we’re only just embarking on the journey to bigger and better things, but already everything about the club seems more professional and we look as if we’re building a squad that will be even more competitive next season.
But there’s still the small matter of five games to play before this one comes to a conclusion…
…starting with another improved away performance against Cambridge today.
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine
And just to get everyone in the mood, here’s CameraShake’s highlights from that home encounter with Cambridge.
It was memorable for several reasons, not the least of which was the 8 tries we scored on the day.
However, Scott Tolmie’s barnstorming individual performance deservedly won him the plaudits, with two runs in particular standing out that day.
The first was when he took the ball from the back of the lineout on our 10m line and ran a full 70+ metres, outpacing a number of defenders and it was only an understandably tired pass that prevented us from scoring.
The second was 40m run which ended with a deft pass to White, who offloaded to Hircock for an easy run in. Rugby at its most simple and effective.
On the day, the Coventry scrum was at its imperious best and the forwards were able to use the rolling maul to good effect. If Coventry’s forwards can enjoy a similar degree of dominance this afternoon, it will make life extremely tough for Cambridge even with home advantage.
There’s still a lot to play for and Cov could certainly catch and overtake Rosslyn Park, and even Moseley, before the end of the season, so there’s plenty of incentive to beat Cambridge today.
Should be a cracker…
At the moment I’m not sure as to whether I’ll be able to make the today’s game, although I’m hoping to.
Presuming I do and if you’re not get across to Cambridge but want to keep up-to-date with what’s happening at Granchester Road in real time, other than just updates of the scores, please let me know and I’ll be happy to tweet regular descriptions of what is happening which combined make a crude ‘commentary’ of sorts.
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!
If ever the lyrics of a song epitomised what travelling with Cov supporters to away games by coach this season has been like, then it’s Sheryl Crow’s ‘Every Day Is A Winding Road’…
…jumping aboard , enjoying the show, Saturdays away from the BPA full of highs and lows but always travelling in the right direction, both literally and metaphorically.
Once of those songs you just love to hate – or in my case, hate to love…