Consistency the key – and why one young Cov prop might just be magic, you know (never believe it’s not so)
I love my sunny day
Dream of far away
Dreaming on my pillow in the morning
Never been awake
Never seen a day break
Leaning on my pillow in the morning light
It’s magic you know
Never believe it’s not so
It’s magic you know
Never believe it’s not so
Pilot – It’s Magic
Whilst the five points from Coventry’s win against Bishop’s Stortford last weekend was something most had predicted before the game, the manner in which they were achieved certainly wasn’t. It was a less than convincing performance from a Cov side that stuttered and stalled in places against a Bishop’s Stortford team that lifted it’s game as so many do when they come to the BPA for the first time.
This weekend Cov, now top of the league following last Saturday’s win, take on bottom of the table Fylde in a game that should be something of a banker as far as away games are concerned.
Two teams, as far apart in the table as you can get.
Something of a mismatch?
You’d think so, but this is Coventry and last season we travelled up to Fylde in confident mood only to be well-beaten by a Fylde side that had done their homework and were the better team on the day.
This time I’m only counting my chicks once they’re completely out of their shells.
I might be wrong here, but I think Cov travelled up to Lytham on the Friday last season and I would imagine that they will have done so again yesterday – with so much potentially at stake this season, I expect RW will want to make sure that the players are given every opportunity to prepare both mentally and physically for every game, especially those way from home – Fylde, Darlington and Plymouth all involve getting on for a three-hour coach journey and ideally that’s not something you want to be doing on the morning of a game at this level.
So why then do I travel up to Fylde today with that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that it could still all go somewhat pear-shaped?
And I have to say I feel very disloyal admitting it…but too often, even last season under Rowland Winter, Cov has failed to deliver on its travels and I have yet to be convinced that the coaches have totally cured the team of its tendency to self-destruct on occasions when away from home.
The Old Albanian game in Week 3 was a close run thing by all accounts and although results at Hull and Esher already this season have provided plenty of evidence to suggest that Cov is much stronger and much more confident away from the BPA, I’ve seen far too many games in recent years where we just haven’t done ourselves justice. I’m ever the optimist, but even so it’s going to take far more than just three games to prove Cov has developed the mindset to overcome previous insecurities about playing away from home.
The second half of last season was much improved on this front, but in those big games at the likes of Plymouth, Blackheath, Ampthill, Moseley et al, we have yet to prove ourselves. The real test will come just before Christmas, with trips to Darlington and Moseley, the results of which could impact greatly on determining the final league positions…
…but for now, we must face a Fylde side that despite it’s lowly position was good enough to beat Rosslyn Park at home just two weeks ago. I think I’d be far more confident had Coventry looked more convincing last week but even so, you have to believe Coventry, even with the number of injuries it’s currently experiencing, will be far too strong for what is by all accounts a very young and inexperienced Fylde side.
Rowland Winter has certainly resisted the temptation to rest more than just a couple of his senior squad and unlike the team that faced Old Albanian, Makaafi and Preece both start in the back row. Luke Narraway remains on the bench with Brett Daynes the only one of the three who started against Bishop’s Stortford, although this time he’s at no 8.
I imagine that Daynes and/or Olly Povoas will get a couple more starts over the next few games as Rowland Winter will presumably want what would probably be his strongest starting back row of Makaafi, Preece and Narraway fresh for that tricky run of five or six games before Christmas. The fact that Daynes is comfortable at 6 or 8 gives the coaches plenty of options to rest at least one of those three and you know with Brett (or Olly) that he’ll never let you down.
Even without Grove, Knox, Fenner and White, the backs look to have plenty strength in midfield and pace out wide and I think Tom Emery has impressed everyone with his performances in the last couple of games – and he offers the added bonus of being able to switch to scrum half should Dave Brazier need to come off for any reason.
With arguably 7 of the ‘regular’ Development Squad involved in today’s game (Neal, Jeannot, Oghre, Palmer, Titchard-Jones, Gray and Lane as a traveling reserve), the benefits of having a reserve side are now becoming tangible – and maybe their presence in the senior squad is the reason for the cancellation of today’s Zoo Shield fixture (it has have yet to be announced) – or maybe I just missed it?
Prior to RW’s arrival, many of these players would have played little if any rugby over the past few weeks or, if they had, it would have been at a more junior level. Cov can now call upon players who are training with the full first team squad under the watchful eyes of the Coventry coaches and will be more than familiar with what is expected at a senior level.
And I reckon that is a big, big advantage. Just how big we might begin to see today.
Neal might have played earlier had he not been injured and looks to have been given the nod over Kwaku Asiedu. Palmer, Gray and Titchard-Jones would all be playing in most National One sides by now anyway and have acquitted themselves well when they’ve stepped up to the senior team already this season. And even though George Oghre will be making his league debut today if he comes on off the bench (although I think he came on against Rotherham pre-season), he certainly won’t be phased by the step up.
Young Joe Lane really stood out for me in the pre-season games for the Development Squad and looks a really good prospect and the fact that he has been given the opportunity to travel up with the senior squad suggests that the coaches are encouraged by the progress he is making.
Luc Jeannot perhaps is the most interesting addition to today’s match day squad though. I know he was formerly a member of the Saints Academy sides, although little else.
I remember RW mentioning him during a pre-season training session, saying what a good prospect he was and how well he was adapting to life at Cov and that he was already pushing some of the players more senior to him.
Now, I might be way off the mark here and end up embarrassing myself somewhat, but I did a little search on Luc via Google to see what came up. The only thing I could find was a small snippet in the The Telegraph about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich who were in the semi-final of the 2015 Nat West Schools’ Cup. The captain was asked to talk about the characters in his team – the first player mentioned was one Luc Jeannot:
Big Luc Jeannot, a prop, is the first to mention. A fan favourite with songs like “woa ho ho he’s magic you know, never get past Luc Jeannot” seem to be among the loudest sung around the pitch and as the nature of the wild Jeannot (sic) you can be rest assured whenever he is a round, there will not be a quiet moment.
Now it might be pure coincidence and as there’s no photo to confirm it’s the same Luc J, then maybe it is indeed a different player, but given he would be about the same age, also a prop and with such an unusual name, well what are the chances…?
I’ll never get that bl&%dy song out of my head now…
The sign of a good side is how well it reacts to a poor performance.
Well, last weekend was certainly a poor performance by Cov’s standards, or at least if not poor, then one of its poorer performances.
Rowland Winter has said he expects a reaction this weekend and those traveling up to Fylde today will be hope to see Cov dominate the game far more than they did last week.
Cov has yet to find the consistency that it will need if it is going to still be challenging for the top spot in April and if I have a concern, it would be that in two of the six games we’ve played so far we haven’t looked a top two side – and against relatively weaker opposition.
We can’t just turn it on for the big games – we have to show a more ruthless streak and against teams like Old Albanian and Bishop’s Stortford, good as they are, we shouldn’t be allowing them to settle into their game to the extent we have so far this season.
In the end, the manner of the win will always be secondary to the win itself, but we shouldn’t be putting the kind of pressure on ourselves that we have done on a couple of occasions already this season.
Hopefully, Cov can do what they often do, and put the game beyond the opposition’s reach before half time – it they can, it will certainly make watching the game rather less fraught for the supporters.
Up the Cov.
For those supporters not making their way up to Fylde today but who would like to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in real time, other than just updates of the scores, please let me know and I’ll be happy to tweet regularly from the game.
The tweets, when combined, make a crude ‘commentary’ of sorts. Be warned though, you might get well over a 100 tweets during the course of the game, so if that is too much @CoventryRugby will probably offer score updates. I’m not sure if Fylde has it’s own Twitter feed, but it might be worth checking.
Coventry’s twitter feed at home is improving all the time, but whether it is providing anything away from home is unclear…hopefully they will, although it will probably updates of scores and key moments in the game, rather my ‘tweet anything and everything’ approach to the game!
Please bear in mind, I am a bit one-eyed when I tweet, covering more than just the scores as they occur… usually there are other choices available though, depending what it is that you’re looking for.
I’m on @Cowshedtim
Apologies in advance for some of the typos that appear. For some though, that’s the most enjoyable part of the game…
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.
Pilot – sickly sweet pop…and to think when they split they joined either 10CC or The Alan Parson’s Project. From ‘February’ to ‘Rubber Bullets’ – shocking.
If you do pluck up courage to listen to this, then I defy you not to try and sing ‘woa ho ho he’s magic you know, never get past Luc Jeannot‘ at the appropriate moment