The season so far, the story so far…?
Last season was a pretty decent one when all’s said and done.
Fourth in the league, a club record number of tries scored, the highest league attendance at the BPA…and so it goes on.
But the 2016/17 season didn’t have the most auspicious of starts, given that by the end of Week 7 we had lost more games than we’d won. Yet we still went on to finish 4th and, with Hartpury out of the equation, we would have been pushing for the top spot based purely on our post Christmas form and with a squad which was far less formidable than that which we currently have.
So I thought I’d do a quick recap on the season so far in numbers, with a comparison where possible of how things stack up against where we were at the same point in the season 12 months ago (these are shown in brackets and in blue).
All the figures, near enough, come from Statbunker and whilst they will be close to accurate, I can’t promise they are all totally correct. Apologies in advance if there are some anomalies. Whilst I am definitely more numerate than I am literate, please forgive any inaccuracies in my figures – it’s a late one tonight.
It makes for some interesting reading…(honestly!)
The Season So Far…
Results: P7 W7 D0 L0 (P7 W3 D0 L4)
Points For: 326 (224)
Points Against: 113 (179)
Points Difference: +213 (+45)
Tries scored: 48 (31) 26FH 22SH
Tries By Position: 48 of which 30 Backs 16 Forwards (8FB 11W 6C 5HBs 8FR 3SR 5BR 2 PTs)
Tries Conceded: 11 (25) 7FH 4SH
4+ Tries: 6 (3)
Bonus Points: 6 (4)
Home Record: P3 W3 D0 L0 F117 A48
Away Record: P4 W4 D0 L0 F209 A65
Leading Try Scorer: James Stokes 5H 3A
Tries by By Position Against: 11 of which 4 Backs 7 Forwards (1FB 2W 1C 0HBs 3FR 1SR 3BR 0PTs)
Club Discipline: 2 Yellows (both Ben Palmer)
Kicking Strike Rate: Will Maisey 73% Ben Palmer 75%
Penalties Attempted: 5
Average Home Gate: 1797 (Against last season’s average of 1263)
Most Points In A Match: 15 Tom Emery/Scott Tolmie
Players Involved In All 7 Games: 5 – Stokes*, Maisey, Brazier, Litchfield* and Stevens* (*denotes started in all 7)
(H=Home, A = Away, FB = Full Back, W=Wings, C=Centres, HB= Half Backs, FR = Front Row, SR = Second Row, BR = Back Row, PT = Penalty Tries, FH = First Half, SH = Second Half)
Lots of information of there, much of which is worthy of a comment, although I’m sure there are many different ways of interpreting the stats.
That said, a few observations:
- Cov has only attempted five penalties (as in attempts at the three points) in the 7 games so far this season, an indication of just how dominant the team has been. 3 of those came in the Blackheath game which perhaps tell us a little bit about how Cov will change their game plan against the top teams in the league…?
- Were we to continue to average the current 46.5 points per game over the remainder of the season, we would end up with 1397 points, still well less than the 1460 points Hartpury scored last season – which shows just what a phenomenal season the Glos based side had.The good news is we would have scored 206 tries in the process though;
- The 6.86 tries we currently average a game are spread pretty evenly over both halves – 26 in the first and 22 in the second. With the strength of the ‘finishers’ on the bench, I thought this might have been weighted in favour of Cov scoring more tries in the second half, as the opposition tired;
- The strength of the bench is probably better reflected in the number of tries conceded though (or not conceded in this case), with 7 in the first half and only 4 in the second. You’d expect the gaps to be opening up a little in the last 20, so to concede just the 4 is impressive. By this stage last season we had let in 25 tries – an indication of just how much our defence has improved;
- Last season we conceded 24.8 points a game which was far too high to be a serious contender for a top three spot. This season we have reduced it to just 16.1. Encouragingly, Harpury conceded 17.7 points per game last season. It’s early days, but the impact that the senior pros are having, together with the leadership/defensive coaching of Luke Narraway and the input of Nick Walshe, seem to be having the desired effect;
- One of strands of info above that really stands out for me is Cov’s away record this season. In the whole of the 2016/17 season we only managed just 6 wins and a draw; already we’re approaching that figure with just the four away games played so far. We always knew we would have to show far more discipline away from home this season and so far that is precisely what we have done. Rowland Winter’s decision to bring in players with the experience of Makaafi, Preece, Nilsen, Grove, Tuitupou and Narraway has proved to be exactly what was needed – their influence has already been immense. I certainly don’t think we would have won against Bishop’s Stortford last season without their involvement;
- Discipline across the board has improved and out of 560 minutes of rugby this season, we’ve played 520 with the full complement of 15 players. If we can retain such levels of concentration, especially against the likes of Plymouth, Darlington and Ampthill in the coming weeks, we are giving ourselves a far better chance of success. The pressure we are putting teams under at the moment is creating ill-discipline amongst their players, not ours – repeat that against the top teams in the league over the coming weeks and we will make things just a little bit easier for ourselves ( we only conceded 4 penalties in the whole of the Fylde game, against their 14);
- ‘Tries by position’ is an interesting one – whoever penned Fylde’s review of the game at the weekend wrote:
the visitors eschewed their limited, forward-oriented style of previous seasons on this ground and looked to attack from anywhere on the pitch.
- It’s a comment that neatly summarises Coventry’s approach since RW and the coaches took over 16 months or so ago. Last season Cov scored 82 tries amongst the backs and just 42 in the forwards and so far this year the figures look very similar, with 30 in the backs and only 16 in the forwards. Coventry’s ability to counter-attack makes defences nervous and puts uncertainty in the minds of the opposition, even when they are attacking inside our 22. One dropped ball or a turnover and the likes of Stokes, Knox, Emery, Stevens and so on can cause real damage;
- This is probably a little premature, but if the average home gate across the whole of the season was around the 1600 mark, then that would be a considerable achievement. Even in the 2014/15 season, the year we had the 16 game winning streak, we only attracted attendances averaging 1506. The Wasps Factor? What Wasps Factor? An additional 350 paying supporters over and above last season’s total (for the sake of argument) paying an average £12 to get in (taking into account concessions) works out at approximately £126,000 over the course of a season. And that’s without including the profits from bar/food/merchandise sales – enough I imagine to cover the cost of three or 4 of the Galaticos…? That’s serious money and I actually think I’ve been a bit conservative with the 1600 figure, given that there are still one or two BIG fixtures still to come. If things remain as they are, then the games against Plymouth, Ampthill, and Darlington might well top the 2000 mark. As the season progresses and we hopefully continue to challenge at or near the top, then the average gate is going to grow even larger;
- Should we not go up this season, and that has to be the more likely scenario at the moment, then that additional income (provided it is earmarked for the rugby side of the business) could be important in strengthening the squad yet further for another challenge at the National One title next season – and that can only be to Coventry’s long-term advantage, no matter which team comes down.
Early days still, but there are some trends emerging…and positive ones at that.
Long may they continue.
Another update on the Supporters’ Club coach to Cambridge….and it’s great news.
Not only is the coach now fully booked – the Supporters’ Club is now just three people short of booking a second coach.
So, anyone who is already coming along, bring an extra friend, or another family member or just some unsuspecting passer-by off the street.
Or, better still, if you are still um-ing and ah-ing about the trip down to Cambridge, then now’s the time to make the decision. In doing so, you’ll also enable all those presently on the waiting list to travel as well. And you could be there to witness history in the making if we do beat Loughborough on Saturday and equal the club record consecutive league wins…a win at Cambridge and there could be plenty of cause to celebrate.
If you’re someone who normally might travel by car – come on the coach and be part of something just that little bit special.
To take two coaches down to Cambridge would be a really significant moment in the club’s renaissance and it would send a huge message of support to the players. With traveling support of that number, several of the less well attended grounds will become almost home fixtures – and we know how well the team plays when it is roared on by such loyal support.
So if you have yet to experience the joys of travelling by coach to watch Cov, this is an ideal opportunity – it’s a chance to meet with many like-minded folk united by their support of Cov and you’re sure of a warm, friendly welcome. Cambridge is pulling out all the stops as far as hospitality is concerned and there will be plenty in the way of refreshments should you fancy a pre-match repast. It’s a lovely ground to visit, isn’t the longest of journeys and at £15 return for SC members it works out extremely good value.
See you on Coach One…
…or maybe even Coach Two.