Club talk

Coventry v Darlington Mowden Park – walking on sunshine

Now I don’t want you back for the weekend
Not back for a day, no no no
I said baby I just want you back
And I want you to stay (Oh yeah now!)

I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
And don’t it feel good

Katrina and the Waves – I’m Walking On Sunshine

 

Image result for darlington mowden park

Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday.

The end-of-season finale to what has surely been Coventry’s most successful home campaign since the beginning of national league rugby?

National One 16/17 Home league table

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

Coventry

14 13 1 557 320 237 10 1 63 4.5

It’s a pretty impressive record and one that I’m sure any Cov supporter would have accepted at the start of the season, averaging as we are 40 points a game and securing the bonus point for the 4th try in all but 4 of 14 games so far played.In most other seasons you’d expect to be in first place with that sort of win/lose ratio and probably significantly higher than  our current 5th place overall in the table, and indication of just how competitive National One has been this season, as well as just how disappointing our away record has been, especially pre-Christmas.

The fact remains though that at home we have been virtually unbeatable and fortress BPA has been a ground that has proved  the undoing of all but one of the teams this season with only Darlington still to visit us.

And with none of the likely clubs in contention for the top spot next season having tasted success here this season and none of the teams likely to be promoted from National 2 having played at the BPA in a competitive fixture before, the BPA should continue to be an intimidating ground to visit next season as well.

And that is something that will be very much in our favour…especially if there are games where the outcome remains in doubt up until the final few minutes. We’ve seen just how effective home advantage can be in these sorts of situations at various times this season, especially in games against the likes of Blaydon, Old Albanian, Moseley and Plymouth where, in front of a big and passionate crowd, Cov has been able to draw on the atmosphere created by 1200 plus supporters and feed off the raw energy they generated.

It gives us a massive advantage and one that both the players and coaches have been quick to acknowledge over the course of the season.

And it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Were we pushing for promotion with 3 or 4 home games to go, we would undoubtedly be drawing in crowds of 2000 or more (still 700 less than for the home game against Moseley before Christmas!) and if that were to be the case, there aren’t many teams in our league who would relish playing against a Coventry side geed on by such incredible support.

A potentially stronger side in front of a potentially larger crowd…the omens are encouraging.

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

Coventry should have enough to beat a Darlington side whose away record is even poorer than Coventry’s, having won the same number of games on their travels (5 in total)  but without the additional draw as well.

Rather like Cov, Darlington have had a much stronger second half to the season, winning 8 games and losing 5, with three of those losses being by 1, 3 and 5 points (against Rosslyn Park, Plymouth and Blackheath respectively) and losing by just 8 points to Hartpury.

It’s definitely going to be a test for Coventry and whilst you’d have to fancy us to take the five points, if we are slow out of the blocks or have one of those Cov lapses in concentration that were so typical earlier in the season, then Darlington are more than good enough to make life very difficult for us on Saturday.

Normally I be suggesting that a win, however it is achieved, would be sufficient, and if Cov can score four tries in the process, well even better.

However, I would tentatively suggest that Cov need to win and win big on Saturday…and not because of all the various milestones that are within reach during the last couple of games – 100 league points, a record number of tries, 1000 league points scored (and probably the most home points scored in a season as well..?)…all of those would be good but there is another reason why a big win, preferably of Albanian proportions, is so important.

Cov need to sign off in front of their home supporters in style in order to leave an indelible memory on those who attend, one that will be talked about in much the same way as the last away game will be long discussed amongst those who were present then. Season tickets are now available, some big signings announced and with hopefully another still to come next Tuesday.

A good win to top it all and there’s a feeling that this really is a club on the up…

…a loss and some of the momentum is lost.

Hopefully, there will be a bit of razzamatazz about the Butts on Saturday to celebrate what has been such a good home record this season and to ensure supporters, old and new, will be thinking seriously about committing themselves to a season ticket over the coming weeks. With no home games to come after Saturday, the club has to be reliant on supporters taking the initiative themselves rather than the club selling the package to them through the match day experience itself.

Me, I’d have a hog roast and an outdoor beer tent in operation, as well as facing painting for the kids and autograph signing by all the players immediately after the game with photo opps and  a raffle or two to win the odd players’ shirt (odd as in one or two!)..anything and everything to make the last home game of the season memorable enough to ensure that those who are there are left counting the days down until the first home friendly in August.

And if, amongst all that, Cov can produce another one of their 50 pointers as well, well then you have something very positive for supporters to take away with them over the summer break.

That and some decent weather as well and it really will be like walking on sunshine…

It will be interesting to see what sort of team the Cov coaches opt for over the last couple of games – will they want to give all the remaining players left in the squad one last hurrah, or will it be a question of continuing to be completely focused, ensuring the strongest possible team is selected for the Darlington and Loughborough games.

For instance, do you give Rhodri Adamson one last appearance (presuming he’s not playing Sevens) or do you stick with White or Grasso, or does MacBurnie get to a final appearance in front of supporters for whom he has always been something of a favourite, or do Stevens, Knox and Wheatcroft have the final word?

Head or heart…

…heart or head?

As a supporter, as well as being a bit of a softie really, I’d go for Adamson and MacBurnie.

But as a coach, I’d go for the current incumbents.  Every time.

I know there are plenty of supporters who don’t feel there’s any difference in our league between finishing 4th or 13th, but I’m not sure that’s how the coaches see it and that there’s isn’t much of a place for sentimentality when you’re in charge.

Plus, of course, Cov will want to ensure that they make amends for conceding a try in the dying minutes of the game against DMP up at the Northern Echo Arena, a try that earned the home team a draw after Coventry had led for much of the game and probably had done enough to deserve the win.

A lapse in concentration over that last 10-15 minutes, a couple of wayward kicks out of hand and Cov handed Mowden the two points – all ifs and buts I know, but had we hung on for the win we would have been in 4th place now, ahead of Moseley and in catching distance of Ampthill in third place.

For anyone wanting to remind themselves of the key moments from the game,  highlights can be found under the Videos link on the DMP website…(and that’s something that would certainly be on my wishlist for the Cov website before too long, that and archived match day programmes)….

…nice one, DMP.

Darlington Mowden Park v Coventry RC – December 2016

Hopefully, it won’t be such a close encounter this time around.

Cov have their tails up, a run of six good wins behind them and a chance to get themselves into the records books as well. Confidence must be pretty high at the moment and, after a week off, the players must be champing at the bit to get back onto the pitch for one last time in front of their home crowd this season.

With no Wasps game this weekend, hopefully a few more might venture down to the BPA to see what all the excitement is about…and once they venture into the ground, the rest is up to Cov.

Will the team be able to turn it on at home this weekend as they did against Old Albanian the week before last…?

Same weather and same result and it really will feel as if…

I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
I’m walking on sunshine (Wow!)
And don’t it feel good

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Just to show that I can do middle of the road as well as anyone…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories:Club talk

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