Club talk

Old Albanian v Coventry – such a perfect day

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Told you it would be close…

Shows what I know. ūüôā

In my defence I’ve been saying pretty much all season that if Cov can put in a full 80 minutes, then some team is going to suffer.

Well, Old Albanian suffered big time yesterday¬†and it wasn’t even as if they were a particularly poor side either.

You’re going to reap just what you sow

Despite the scoreline, Old Albanian had plenty of possession and at no point did their heads drop…it was just that Coventry excelled in everything they did, whether¬† in attack or defence. When we play at such pace, then we are capable of beating anyone in this league.

Anyone…

It was just the most extraordinary Cov performance, one that will live in my memory as long as my memory lives in me.

Cov broke two of their own league records yesterday apparently (and thank you John Butler for providing the information) – our biggest league win (8-73) and the biggest points difference (65).

It really was that impressive a performance.

 

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Max Trimble – a hatrick of tries against Old Albanian. Outstanding.

It took 32 minutes for the game to be over as a contest.

Just 32 minutes.

When Max Trimble went over for the fourth try in the 33rd minute, Cov had all but won the game.

By half time, Coventry had moved the score onto 3-47 and it wasn’t just Old Albanian that was shell-shocked – the crowd too was left reeling from as complete a first half¬†performance as I can remember seeing for a very, very long time.

As Coventry walked off after that first 40 minutes, they did so to some thunderous applause from a Coventry crowd that appeared to outperform the OA support in a lively display that mirrored that of the Cov players on the pitch.

But in fairness, the OA supporters didn’t have a great deal to shout about.

One of the disappointments for me this season,¬†only a slight one though and I am getting picky here, is that having put in strong first half performances in the past in a number of games, Coventry¬†has more often than not failed to¬†build on them. A lack of concentration or perhaps some over-confidence on the part of the players ¬†has meant that we’ve taken our foot of the gas and allowed the opposition back into the game, failing to capitalise on a strong first 40 minutes.

This wasn’t the case at all against Old Albanian. The opposition certainly came out after the break as you’d expect from what must have been a pretty uncomfortable team talk at half time, and for the opening few minutes they played with plenty of intensity, but Cov weathered the early storm, or maybe squall, and a Heath Stevens try ensured that no real momentum was lost during the interval.

But wasn’t just the pace and power of Coventry in attack that caught the eye.

Believe it or not, it was also one of Coventry’s best defensive displays as well. Old Albanian had spells in the game where they saw plenty of the ball, certainly more than perhaps the final score might suggest, but Coventry were very quickly up in defence, holding their line and ensuring that OA were rarely able to¬†gain much territorial advantage when that had possession.

Coventry pressed well and on several occasions the intensity of the Coventry tackling meant OA  eventually lost the ball, either through unforced errors or through being forced to kick the ball away.

The biggest celebration from the Cov players wasn’t reserved for the final whistle or for when Coventry scored their bonus point – no, it was when Coventry had¬†defended their line for¬†a couple of minutes, eventually causing¬†OA to knock on and give Cov the scrum. Cue fist pumping and back slapping.

It was that disciplined a performance Рthey just did not want to concede a try. That they did, and scored by James Pritchard as well, will have annoyed them but it was a very determined, all-round performance from a Coventry team that is growing in confidence all the time.

Jake Byrne – suffered an early injury and was replaced after just 8 minutes

And yet didn’t start that promisingly. Cov went backwards at the first scrum in the opening minutes, conceding a penalty¬†in the process,¬†and it became clear early on that Jake Byrne was struggling with an injury of some sort (back?) – Cov weren’t seeing much ball and it looked for all the world as if it might be a tight contest. Another scrum, another Old Albanian penalty…

Phil Boulton replaced Jake B after 8 minutes, the scrum settled and the tables were quickly reversed, with the Cov scrum back to its dominant best. Disappointing for Jake, but at least his time will come again…it must have been tough for him watching Cov being so destructive from the sidelines knowing he should have been a part of it.

Cov’s first two tries were actually pretty routine affairs¬†– lineouts close to the try line and a couple of catch and drives¬†that OA could do nothing to prevent. That said, the first came after a Cliffie Hodgson clearance that was all of 60 plus metres and from no angle at all. Suddenly,¬† from defending their own¬†22 Cov were, with just a kick of the boot, attacking the OA try line.

Pete White – speed of thought and execution meant he was outstanding yesterday

After that though, Coventry began to play some fluid rugby, often catching OA cold on the counter and with the speed of thought and execution showed by the Coventry backs, OA just had no answer. The third try was a good example of that…somewhere near our 22 Pete White picked up the ball from the breakdown (or it might have been a quick tap), ran at the defence and chipped ahead for Will Maisey to gauge the bounce beautifully, leaving himself¬†with¬†a straightforward run in…from defence to attack in the space of a few seconds.

From thereon in, almost everything Cov tried paid off.

Max Trimble scored a hatrick of tries and all three required him to use his pace to break clear of the last defenders. The lad has speed to burn and for two of his¬†tries he ran round the outside of the OA defenders, relying on pure speed to see him through…we know how quick Dan Rundle is – well Max looked every bit as quick out there yesterday. It was a very impressive display.

At one point in the second half. James Stokes, seeing that he was about to receive a hospital pass, somehow flicked the ball between his legs and straight to Trimble (?) who ran in from 35 metres to score.

It was just one of those days…

But¬†I’ve always believed that you make your own luck and Coventry were able to enjoy the dominance they did because they did the basics well and OA had no answer not just to the power and physicality of Coventry up front, but also the pace and the skill exhibited by the backs as well.

It was a performance that left Cov supporters drooling and one that has been a while in the making. Coventry had threatened to take teams apart before but have failed to kill the game off, especially after the break. Not so yesterday – we saw a ruthless efficiency in everything the team did and for once the killer instinct was there.

This might sound patronising and it’s really not meant to be, but for too long Coventry,¬†a big club with big resources, just hasn’t been able to make¬†its obvious advantage count. We have underperformed just as¬†smaller clubs have risen to the challenge and raised their game when we’ve come a-visiting.

But we played like a big club yesterday, we played like a club that believed it was better than the opposition and in many respects we were the playground bullies – stronger, bigger, tougher. That might not sound an endearing description, but in truth its what’s been lacking in Cov, even back 2014/15 when we had that successful run of 18 games unbeaten.

Coventry are beginning to show some steel in their performances… we saw that against RP last week and again yesterday. It’s all very well playing expansive attacking rugby, but you also have to believe you are the better side. There must be¬†no soft underbelly to expose..

We were armadillo-like yesterday…(or do all animals have soft underbellies..?)…no real weaknesses,. nothing that OA could exploit.

Achilles but without the heel.

When we did allow OAs the ball, they weren’t able to do much with it and despite the occasional break, the Coventry cover held up well and any threat to our line was ended¬†pretty quickly. Despite all their possession, and they had a fair bit, other than the try OA only had one other obvious scoring opportunity.

Not quite the complete performance ( we’ve still not got restarts quite right just yet), but as near as we’re likely to see. Maybe part of it was a response to the rumours of a couple of big announcements due over the next¬†two weeks – new signings with big reputations.

I hope that is the case and as a coach that is exactly the response I would want to see…

…if you’re coming to Cov then you’re going to have to fight for your place because we’ve go here first and we’re doing ok, thank you very much.

It must have been a pretty enjoyable journey back to Coventry for the players…

…it certainly was for the supporters.

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow

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

Perfect Day – Lou Reed, who else…?

Well. Jools Holland and Friends, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 replies »

  1. Very good to meet you yesterday Tim. Thanks for this excellent report. It’s really fortunate that you’re not running a MOM poll. I’d be pushed to single anyone out, although the Ref had a good game! I wonder what Brett said to him. The OA crowd I was with were pretty downbeat and were expecting a difficult game because of their injury problems. They were not, however, expecting such a drubbing. To a man they were thoroughly impressed by the way we played. Particularly in defence. We were the best team to visit this season, in their opinion. That includes Hartpury!
    I didn’t mention our new, pending signings as I had no wish to ruin their afternoon further.
    I was impressed by the warmth and hospitality shown by OA. It’s a great club. Shanners is off to Blackheath and may take players with him, including Bates (no.7), who I thought was their best player. I hope they recruit well, I’m already looking forward to next year’s visit early in the season.
    Thanks again for the report.
    Richard.

    Like

    • Hi Richard….great to meet you, too! Match polls on away days wouldn’t work as so few supporters go, relatively. You’d also have to rely on people not attending the game refraining from voting! As for the MoM, it would be difficult to look further than Trimble, although I thought Brett Daynes was imperious out there yesterday, especially when we were defending. Interesting that they thought we were the best team to visit OA this season – it bodes well for next! The excitement is only going to build between now and next August – hopefully, a couple more results like the one yesterday will sell a few more season tickets!
      Thanks for the comment, as always!
      Tim

      Like

  2. Didn’t see a vote for man of the match, but Max Trimble would have my vote. Privallege to see Cov cut lose and show how awesome they are now. Cannot wait for the new season with the additional players to come into the squad. Something special is in the water.

    Like

    • Hi Peter…yes, Trimble was a revelation – had shown lots of promise but yesterday he was just too good for the OA defence. There is definitely a sense that something special is taking place – the beginnings of a belief that this time actions will speak louder than words and that Cov won’t be far off top spot this time next season. Plymouth might have something to say about that, but here’s hoping!

      Like

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