Club talk

Rosslyn Park and training ground news…

Rosslyn Park F.C. logo.pngAnd so to Rosslyn Park on Saturday.

Sixth in the league at home to fifth and a win for Cov leapfrogs us above Park and just that little bit closer to Moseley in fourth.

So plenty to play for even at this fairly late stage of the season and with both teams likely to be somewhere near the top end of the table this time next year, then there’s an added incentive – a win on Saturday would just give us a little psychological edge going into September, especially if we can put in the kind of dominant performance that saw off a very physical Blackheath back in January.

And Cov’s performance against Blackheath is an important pointer – one of the three London teams against which we really failed to do ourselves any justice against away from home and losing all too easily at theirs, we put in one of our best performances at home to beat them 39-3 at the Butts putting down a marker for the remainder of the season and into next as well.

Only away against Fylde and in the second half against Hartpury, also away, have we put in poor performances since then and with 4 consecutive wins now, Coventry must be relishing the opportunity to put the record straight against Park on Saturday.

At first sight, there’s very little difference between the playing records of the two teams, with just one bonus point separating the two after 13 games…

5) Rosslyn Park 26 16 1 9 766 549 217 11 5 0 82 63.08
6) Coventry 26 16 1 9 802 660 142 13 2 0 81 62.31

However, Coventry’s home record is every bit as good as we could have hoped for back in September, whilst Rosslyn Park’s, in a league where away wins are particularly hard to come by, is pretty decent but nothing exceptional.

And, very much with my positive hat one this morning, the omens are good.

Look at the top teams in the Away League table this season, a table which mirrors fairly closely the full table :

1 Hartpury College

Hartpury College

13 13 558 251 307 11 63 4.85
2 Ampthill

Ampthill

12 8 4 306 236 70 5 2 39 3.25
3 Moseley

Moseley

13 8 5 281 313 -32 5 2 39 3
4 Plymouth Albion

Plymouth Albion

12 7 5 304 279 25 3 4 35 2.92
5 Rosslyn Park

Rosslyn Park

13 6 1 6 331 301 30 4 3 33 2.54

…we’ve beaten all the teams above us with the exceptions of Hartpury and Park, whom we face tomorrow.

The message is clear – this Cov side, playing as it is at the moment, has nothing to fear from Park – we need to show them respect, of course we do, but no more than that

Compare our home record against Parks’ away record and you have to believe Coventry are good enough to make life very tough for the visitors.

3 Coventry

Coventry

13 12 1 521 293 228 9 1 58 4.46

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

If you could choose any game this season to replay, just the one mind, which one would it be?

Hartpury at home, Fylde away, Moseley away…they’d all be up there when the votes were counted (it would make a good poll!). But for me, it would definitely be the Rosslyn Park game earlier in the season…

It’s a game where we struggled to get into gear, our scrum was penalised three times in quick succession early on and with Park kicking the resulting penalties, before long we were soon playing catch-up. Tries from Rundle and Pritchard gave us the lead briefly before Park eased ahead in the final minutes. In the end we lost 33-15, were well-beaten and never really in a game that Park dominated territorially.

Coventry suffered a number of injuries, James Stokes had to pull out during the warm up and by the end Maisey was at full back and Rhodri Adamson was on the wing.

Little went right that day. we deserved little from the game, or even the performance, and it would definitely be the one that would top my list of games to replay…

And that desire to make amends for what was such an indifferent performance was pretty evident at training last night. It was an intense session with backs and forwards being put through their paces and then coming together to go through the attack/defence  options in readiness for Saturday.

Everything was done at speed, with very little time for the players to catch their breath or take on fluids. The pace and distribution of the backs in the final 15 minutes looked particularly impressive.

With Tom Howe not available on Saturday , James Stokes was out wide and Cliffie Hodgson at full back and it was noticeable just how much Cliffie was coming into the line to create the extra man or to run a different line to create some uncertainty in the opposition defences.

Whilst the backs scored all the tries last weekend, they didn’t actually see a great deal of the ball and they seemed to lack a bit of creativity in midfield. Cliffie might well be able to open up a bit of space for both Heath Stevens and Rob Knox to run into on Saturday and it looked very much as if Cov are intent to play a more open game than down at Park which is only to be expected.

With Pete White replacing Sam Grasso, Cov look as if they’ll be getting quicker ball out to the backs and if that is the case, it gives Maisey just that split second longer to weigh up Cov’s attacking options..

Matt Price will start on Saturday with Scott Tolmie on the bench. RW made the point that Park have a very experienced front row and although in the end we won the penalty count in the scrum 6-3, Park are very competitive up front. Presumably, Matt offers a bit more physicality and the idea is to put them under pressure from the first whistle which is more Matt’s forte than Scott’s.

Both Craig Newby and Louis Deacon were there, although it looked very much as if Nick Walshe and Boris Stankovich were again leading the session.

Rowland Winter came and sat with us and whilst still appearing to have the remnants of the cold he’s had for the last couple of weeks, he was in good form. There was certainly a big hint that there is still a pretty major signing to come, one whom he felt would be the pick of any Nat 1 signings this season…

No names, no clues as to position, but RW certainly had a smile on his face as he told us. If I remember correctly, I think he suggested that there’s probably one more retention and 3-4 new players to announce, with two of them coming on Tuesday.

RW talked generally about signings and interestingly mentioned that invariably one of the questions he’s asked by players considering joining Cov is just how financially secure the club is. 7 years on and our past still lives with us and, as RW pointed out, that is something that’s going to stay with Cov for a while yet.

He talked, as he always does, openly in answer to our questions. On the decision to delay the laying of the synthetic surface, RW suggested it was prudent on the part of the board to hold back as it might well be that in 12 months’ time, Coventry could secure the cost of the pitch from external funds rather than finance it itself this summer.

He developed a little further his comments about his current contract and I did ask whether the contract negotiations that he is presently involved in and which he mentioned at the last Supporters’ Evening,  were in any way affected by the uncertainty over Coventry City’s ‘on/off/maybe on’ involvement of late. From what he said, they didn’t appear to be at all and he made the point that he has steered clear of getting involved in such  discussions as to whether City play at Cov or not as it wouldn’t impact on him.

It was a relaxed Rowland Winter yesterday at training. There doesn’t appear to be any complacency in the Coventry camp at all, but you do get the sense that there is a belief that Cov is moving in the right direction. He made the point that whilst the performance against Cambridge wasn’t by any means as convincing as it should have been, a few weeks ago that result would have been another Fylde, Park, Esher or Blackheath.

Every game there are areas to improve, but so are there areas that have improved, too.

The team look to be going into Saturday’s game in good spirits. Park will present Cov with a real challenge, especially up front, and Hugo Ellis invariably scores against us, even when he has an indifferent game, but I still think Coventry have enough at home to see them over the finishing line without having to rely on a Will Maisey penalty, wide out and  from 40 metres in the dying seconds of the game…

Rosslyn Park produce the best weekly newsletter of any club in out league, ‘Park News’. Not quite on a par with ‘In Touch’, obviously, but still very good indeed. In this week’s edition, the writer makes the point that:

This coming Saturday’s opponents, Coventry, get the largest home gates in National One, and they really get behind their team. It would be great to see and hear a small army of Park supporters at the match. Coventry is less than an hour from Euston on the fast Virgin trains from Euston (make sure you book an advance ticket to get the cheap fares).  If you have a little more time then the slightly slower London Midland service – also from Euston –  has some really cheap fares available.

A couple of things spring to mind here.

First, the impact that the Cov roar has on visiting teams and, secondly, just how lucky we are to have Supporters’ Club coaches this season.

Thanks to Cliff and the coach managers, supporters are able to travel down to away fixtures in relative comfort and for a small percentage of the amount supporters would have to pay when travelling by train, good as that particular mode of transport is (eh, Dave D?!!!).

The thought of having to go into London and back out isn’t one that I would relish and the benefits that Cov supporters are able to enjoy as a result of the organised transport this season have been one of off-field highlights for Cov supporters.

I’m hoping for a decent crowd on Saturday, what with Harry Walker’s  presentation immediately after the game and the Harry Walker Cup games being played prior to the main event. Certainly there’s plenty extra going on to attract a bigger than average gate. There’s only one home game left after this one, so let’s celebrate what has been a fantastic home record and get behind the players to see if we can make it 13/14 come the end of the day.

That would indeed be some achievement…

And with season tickets on sale for the first time, at reduced rates as part of the early bird offer, it could help it creep over that 1300 mark.

I understand there’s no increase in price next season which is good news…£180 for 15 games under the early-bird offer. £168 with the early bird offer….

They’ll be like the proverbial hot cakes…

…selling fast.

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