Club talk

And the team to play Hull is…?

‘Asked the wife if she’d like to go out at the weekend…

…It was great…had the house to myself on Saturday evening’

Mark Simmons – Comedy Club, Coventry RFC 31 August 2017

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A big thank you to everyone who took part in this week’s poll to select the match day squad to face Hull Ionians on Saturday.

It has proved to be more popular than any of the previous blog polls; hardly surprising given the interest in Cov since the start of pre-season and the recruitment of so many quality players.

The match day squad, as shown below, may well not be the same as the one you selected, but it is made up of those players who received the most votes in each position.

Coventry RC v Hull Ionians (away) – as selected by readers of this blog:

(Figures in brackets refer to the percentage of votes that player received in his category – remember it is not a like-for-like comparison as some categories required perhaps only two selections from 5 {half backs}, whilst others 3 from 9 {front row})

  1. Andy Brown (19)
  2. Phil Nilsen (18)
  3. Phil Boulton (30) Capt
  4. Niles Dacres (35)
  5. Tom Poole (38)
  6. Latu Makaafi (34)
  7. Jack Preece (27)
  8. Luke Narraway (31)
  9. Pete White (43)
  10. Will Maisey (42)
  11. Anthony Matoto ( 15)
  12. Sam Tuitupou (37)
  13. Heath Stevens (35)
  14. Rob Knox (27)
  15. James Stokes (33)
  16. Scott Tolmie (12) FR
  17. James Litchfield (12) FR
  18. Tom Jubb (14)
  19. Dave Brazier (6)
  20. Tony Fenner (9)

 

A couple of comments…

The only ‘controversy’ in terms of selecting the squad arose when finalising the replacements.

Olly Povoas in the back row, and George Oram and Tom Jubb in the second row, all finished runners-up in their respective groups, with Jubb and Oram sharing the same number of votes.

In the end I made an executive decision regarding which of the three I would use as a third replacement in the forwards, opting for Jubby as he could cover both second row and back row. This is particularly hard on Olly P who has continued in the pre-season where he left off at the back end of last season.

Brett Daynes, who is the more obvious choice, didn’t feature heavily enough in the voting to make the cut.

I don’t think there would be too many arguments over the match day squad of 20, other than perhaps the absence of Grove, Povoas, Daynes and Oram…and although this is arguably the strongest side that we could field, I am expecting there to be three or four players in Rowland Winter’s squad for tomorrow who don’t feature at all in this starting squad or who will be playing out of position.

The other player who can count himself a little unfortunate is Kwaku Asiedu who narrowly missed out on being selected on the wing. He was only a couple of percent of the vote behind Anthony Matoto which came as something of a surprise in some respects, given the excitement Matoto’s arrival some four weeks ago now.

He’s another player who missed out on a starting place on the bench and given he isn’t able to cover the other positions in the backs, if he does end up not selected, then his best bet would be to put pressure on the first choice wingers by producing some standout performances in the Development side.

It looks as if most supporters have now accepted Rob Knox’s best position in this squad is as a winger rather than as a centre. Although I included him in the midfield options, few opted for him there, whilst he scored heavily when competing for a place out on the wing. Hopefully, Rob and the coaches have agreed his best position and he can now look forward to staying injury free and having a good run in the senior squad. He looks far more confident already than at any point last season and with the backs hopefully seeing a lot of ball again this year,  he’ll be back to his very best before too long.

The results of the poll for the starting half backs was as conclusive as any, more so in fact.

The White/Maisey combination is obviously the one preferred by most supporters given the results of this poll, but I’m not convinced that in the big games, the Moseleys, Plymouths, Ampthills and Blackheaths, RW will start with Will.

For me, Tony Fenner has a better all round game, especially in defence and in his tactical kicking, whereas Will is more likely to open up lesser defences with his ability to find the gaps as a runner and his slightly better distribution. Tough call either way…but for the coaches, not a bad predicament in which to be.

Rowland Winter has said before that he likes to include a scrum half on the bench, hence Dave Brazier, and a utility back which is why Tony Fenner gets the nod once it was obvious Will Maisey was going to prove so popular amongst supporters. Fenner can play at 10 and 15 and I don’t think he’d look too out of place in the centres. And, if there was an injury to one of the wings, Heath Stevens could move out wide and Tony F move across to 13. Seems to work well, as it would if Will Maisey was on the bench and Tony Fenner started.

As it stands, there is no place for Alex Grove. He’s too good a player to leave out, but if Stevens and Tuitupou start and Grove came onto the bench, it would mean that Fenner couldn’t then  be a replacement. I’m not sure what the solution to that is really…it will be really interesting to see what the coaches have opted for and who the unlucky players are who miss out.

I reckon the team selected above is more likely to be closer to the one chosen to face Moseley the following week, given that it will arguably be the toughest of the fixtures Cov has to play until the end of November when Cov meet Plymouth, again at home (with the possible exception of Blackheath  at the end of this month – again at home).

Selection aside for a moment – looking at the above, whilst there are more home games than away in the second half of the season, all three teams mentioned above, away from home, will present really tough challenges.

Cov will need to be in the top two or three in the league by Christmas if they are going to be able to push on and make a serious challenge for promotion in the final few weeks of the season,  The experience that Rowland Winter has brought into the club in the form of Narraway, Makaafi, Nilsen, Tuitupou and Grove could prove invaluable.

All of them have proven track records when it comes to playing under pressure and they should be able to guide some of the younger, less experienced players through these pressure games. It was something that was lacking last season and it could make all the difference if it’s very tight at the top from February onwards.

For the Hull game, I still feel that there might be one or two players who aren’t starting who will feature in the Moseley game, or who play out of position to just add some uncertainty when the Mose coaches come to look at the video of the Cov’s game against Hull next week.

RW experimented with Tony Fenner at full back and James Stokes out wide last week and perhaps that is something we might see again tomorrow? I do think Will Maisey will start against Hull though and I’d expect Dave Brazier to get a good run out as well, with Fenner and White to start against Moseley.

We beat Hull away last season, our first away win of the season and the only one before Christmas I think, although we drew against Darlington as well. Tom Little’s excellent breakdown of the ins and outs of each of the National One teams this season indicates that Hull has lost one or two of their ‘star’ performers from last year, including Lawrence Cohen (to Moseley) who had such a good game against us last season up at theirs.

There are a couple of familiar names in their squad too, with James Tincknell and Jay Heath both recruited over the summer. Tincknell left us after Christmas in 2016 and Jay Heath joined us for the start of the last season but didn’t ever feature in any of the league games.

The squad is certainly strong enough to put out a team more than capable of beating Hull away from home, but Cov has never travelled particularly well, especially at the start of the season – which is why I’d expect to see some of the more experienced players taking control and dictating play early on.

All this is of course pure speculation on my part and I’ve really set myself up to fail, again (!) given the actual side will be published shortly after this is. It might well be that I have to feast on yet another slice of humble pie on Saturday.

I’m sure there isn’t a Coventry supporter around who hasn’t mentally selected tomorrow’s team at some point or other over the last two or three weeks. One or two of us have even written ours down on paper as part of a Supporters’ Club competition on the way up to Hull on the coach.

At least now the waiting is over…and we’ll get a far better idea of the coaches’ line of thinking once we get to see the actual team announcement.

Roll on tomorrow.

 

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a2.jpg

Mark Simmons performing at the Comedy Club last night

I missed training yesterday evening – which was a bit of a blow as it would have doubtless made writing this post somewhat easier.

You can usually work out the team for Saturday from the way the players line up against each other in the captain’s run, as well as in the sessions where backs and forwards train separately.

However, I was still at the ground in the evening.

Yesterday saw another in the series of very successful Comedy Club evenings at the BPA, with two comedians and a compare performing in front of an audience of between 70 or 80 (at a guess)….

It all took place in the Millerchip Suite (I think that’s the correct name for the far end of the main bar downstairs where the meals are served before the game). There was food available, last night it was fish and chips (with a veggie option), and drinks could be brought at the bar or ordered directly from the bar.

A3It’s a small enough area to generate a good atmosphere and large enough not to feel to claustrophobic (as can be the case in some of the comedy clubs I’ve been to in the past).

The humour is pretty much mainstream with the occasional comic musician, as was the case last night. There’s usually a ‘bit of blue for the dads’ as Peter Kay would call it, but nothing in the slightest that could be deemed offensive.

It was a great evening and going along with a couple of friends added to the enjoyment – plenty of time to chat before and after, but a couple of hours of  laughter in between. And all for £20 per person, including food, with a discount if you’re a member –  which made it very good value indeed.

All-in-all, well worth a visit…

Mark Simmons, the support act, had one of the top 10 jokes at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe:

His was voted the sixth best gag…

Combine Harvesters. And you’ll have a really big restaurant.

Made me laugh, anyway…

 

2 replies »

  1. Interesting Tim, same debates I had trying to pick a team, and strength of squad now is in the players not in the team, particularly only having 5 on bench. No mention of Tom Wheatcroft or Cliffie, both never let us down. Who ever gets left out of back row would be a 1st choice at virtually any other team, like you I think Olly Povoas has been fantastic, as has Brett Daynes. I also think Alex Grove is an unsung hero, he doesn’t miss a tackle, so would also be hard to leave him out (but then either Heath Stevens or Sam wouldn’t make it). Glad I’m not Rowland Winter, but I’m sure he has a plan to play horses for courses this season. Most excited I have been for years. As a gigging musician usually playing on Saturdays, I can’t usually get to away games, so have to rely on your tweets, so many thanks for providing that service. Come on Cov!

    Like

    • Hi Roger…interesting that Sam isn’t playing tomorrow. I think it’s a question of RW keeping his powder dry for next weekend. No video to show how Sam is being used will mean Mose can’t prepare and Cov will play differently with him than without. Hard to see where Cliffie would fit in…Stokes is always going to be first choice and is far better at full back than wing. I rate TW and can understand why he might want to play elsewhere – he’s not someone who should be playing Zoo League fixtures really.
      You must let us know where you’re playing…would be good to go along one Saturday when Cov are at home.

      Like

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