Rather than begin with the lyrics of a song as is sometimes my wont, I thought I’d include a couple of clips from Cov’s game at the weekend. The first is a clip of Max Trimble’s try, included in Rugby Touchline’s (the official England Rugby Twitter account) best scores from National One last weekend. It’s the third try in the sequence.
60m out and with little on, Max has a quick look, fires up the sat nav and through the opposition defences he scythes.
Pace, vision and a reminder of what he’ll bring to the team now he’s back in the side…
We’re now a third of the way through the season, long enough in to begin to make some guesses, educated or otherwise, about how the season might pan out based on what we have seen so far, maybe not yet publicly, but certainly amongst family and friends or fellow supporters on the coach down to Old Elthamians…
Whilst I’m not going to speculate on the winners and losers come April, I thought going into Week 11 might be an appropriate time just to reflect on Coventry’s performance so far this season and tie it into a competition which I ran back in July and August. Readers were invited to take part in a glorified end-of-season prediction, involving a number of areas relating specifically to Coventry’s performance over the season, both on and off the pitch.
Those who took part had to predict:
1 Total number of Coventry tries scored.
2 Total number of tries conceded.
3 Tries scored at home
4 Average home attendance
5 Highest home attendance
6 Most points scored by Cov in a match
7 Most individual points scored in a match
8 Total number of league points scored by Cov
9 Total points scored for Cov
10 Total points scored against Cov
11 Number of bonus points won by Cov
12 Number of points scored by leading points scorer
13 Number of tries scored by leading try scorer
14 Total number of yellow cards conceded
Tie break question: What will be the official home attendance vs Moseley
Entries had to be handed in before the first league game in September.
There was no science to it and no great knowledge required of the team or individual players – it was just something designed to get the old grey matter working a little over the pre-season and something that could run the duration of the whole season.
As I said at the time, it certainly wasn’t one for the purist but it might provide some interest to those who like a bit of a speculative gamble and providing a bit of interest at key moments over the coming months. Initially, it was a chance to take a fiver off Sam, but I decided it would be good to open it up to others – and a number of people took up the challenge.
The winner will receive a modest trophy and all the kudos that inevitably goes with winning such a prestigious competition.
With 10 games gone, I thought I’d provide some feedback for those who took part, whilst also comparing Cov’s season with that of last season.
And it looks something like this…
The figures in brackets in blue correspond to all-conquering Hartpury’s corresponding numbers for that particular category last season, whilst those in green are Coventry’s projected figures come the end of the season were we to replicate the same form over the remaining 20 games – purely as a comparison to Hartpury’s performance the season before.
(after 30 games)
Hartpury in ()
(after 10 games)
|1||Total number of Coventry tries scored||130 (212)||66 (198)|
|2||Total number of tries conceded||98 (74)||14 (42)|
|3||Tries scored at home||79 (121)||29 (87)|
|4||Average home attendance||1263 (337)||1706|
|5||Highest home attendance||2712 (667)||2242|
|6||Most points scored by Cov in a game||73 (92)||64|
|7||Most individual points scored in a game||22 (29)||15|
|8||Total number of league points scored by Cov||101 (148)||49 (147)|
|9||Total points scored for Cov||974 (1460)||440 (1360)|
|10||Total points scored against Cov||738 (532)||134 (402)|
|11||Number of bonus points won by Cov||17 (28)||9 (27)|
|12||Number of points scored by leading points scorer||244 (235)||103 (309)|
|13||Number of tries scored by leading try scorer||10 (36)||10 (30)|
|14||Total number of yellow cards conceded||25 (16)||3 (6)|
Now before we go any further, I am not for a minute suggesting that Coventry will in any way replicate, or even get close to replicating, Hartpury’s incredible achievement last season. By including their stats I’m just hoping to show two things – what a great start to the season Cov has made thus far and just what a team would need to do to get even close to matching the performance of Hartpury in the 2016/17 season.
I don’t believe that Coventry will win all their games this season. That’s just too great an expectation and not something that is likely to be achieved again unless by a Premiership A team in the guise of a National One side…
There will come a time when the bubble will burst and a team will have the beating of us, to think anything else would be naïve in the extreme. Hartpury proved it can be done, but this season has already shown how even clubs with the apparent strength in depth of Cov can be made to struggle – if Old Albanian and Bishop’s Stortford can get that close, others can do even better.
But Cov has made a great start and in key areas they are producing the kind of form that would see them still in contention next April. Coventry’s defence has been immense for most of the season and is well on target to concede less than Hartpury’s total of 74 last season – to get under that figure is going to make us extremely competitive given our propensity to attack and our current try-per-game average. Only Plymouth last season managed to do that, conceding 65 tries in total, whilst Ampthill on 79 and Rosslyn Park on 86 were next closest.
Whilst it seems unlikely that any Cov player is going to get near Jonas Mikalcius’ season’s best of 36 individual tries, James Stokes has already equalled the tally of our leading try scorer last season (Tom Howe) and Scott Tolmie isn’t far behind. Will Maisey is also currently well on target to beat his total points haul of last season, although the return to fitness of Anthony Fenner might reduce the number of opportunities he has to do so over the coming months.
I am surprised that the number of tries scored away from home exceeds by some distance the number scored at home – 37 to 29. Cov has always relished playing in front of a loud and vociferous home crowd and in the past has under-performed away from home. A shift is a very welcome, although one where there is more of an equal spread might be better, provided home form doesn’t dip. We know many away teams raise their game when they visit the Butts which maybe explains the dip this year, with new boys Caldy and Stortford both showing great resolve and tenacity, That said, we are still averaging nearly 6 tries a game at home, so perhaps I’m over-egging the pudding there somewhat.
Whilst Coventry’s discipline in other areas hasn’t always been as consistent as the coaches might have wanted this season despite the winning run, Coventry hasn’t fallen foul of the referee anywhere near as much in terms of the number of yellow cards awarded as in previous seasons. I’m presuming the figure of two is correct – I know Ben Palmer had a yellow in successive games but I’m struggling to remember any others. Tuitupou had a red (Statbunker doesn’t have a red against us, so maybe the third yellow is actually Sam’s red?).
In previous season’s, our propensity to give other teams at least a 10 minute numerical advantage in terms of players on the pitch has cost us dear, especially with that oft-quoted statistic of each yellow being worth on average 7 points to the opposition. This season has been a welcome change and is perhaps one of the reasons why our defence has remained impenetrable on occasions.
We’re on course to beat last season’s results in almost every area, other than perhaps the highest attendance of the season, given that we have already entertained Moseley at the BPA. However, I’d wager that were Coventry to maintain it’s position at the top of the league, then that current highest attendance for the season of 2,242 will be broken on more than one occasion. Indeed, a win against Old Elthamians on Saturday could see it broken in the very next home game against Plymouth.
The problems there is that there is a blank weekend in between which might result in a loss of momentum a little, but if the club keeps advertising the game, emphasising the possible significance of the win, then it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for a new season’s best. A 2.30 pm kick off the England v Samoa might reduce potential numbers a little, but I still think it could be close.
It’s no longer a question of ‘early days’ any more; Cov go into the mid- section of the season with its head in front and the chance to make a real statement of intent over the next five games. We can now boss the league to some extent, and like it or not, we are in a position of strength even with three or four longer term injuries. I imagine the games can’t come round enough for the squad at the moment – as they can’t for many of the supporters, too.
For those who took part in the pre-season prediction competition, this post is an opportunity for you to see how your predictions are faring after such a positive start to the season from Cov. For others, it is offers a moment’s reflection of how much better Cov has started this season to last and, indeed, how well it could do if it maintains its current run of form.
Training tonight should be an interesting one – Rowland Winter suggested there were a few things to work on before the Old Elthamians game this weekend, so it will be an opportunity to see how the players are responding to what wasn’t the most convincing of performances against Caldy.
If you haven’t yet been to a Thursday evening training session, do come along if you are able to – it starts from about 6.30 pm onwards and goes on to around 8.00 pm and there’s always a few supporters there, so you won’t be alone. Many of the players have commented on how unusual it is to see supporters at training and it is appreciated, something that Anthony Matoto made reference to in his interview with John Wilkinson this week. Rowland Winter often comes over and has a chat, depending on his commitments elsewhere, and there’s always plenty of healthy Cov discussions amongst the supporters as well.
Tim’s Top Tip of the Week – The garage opposite the ground sells coffee, so there’s always the option of taking a warm drink along with you
To end, another Rugby Touchline tweet, this time featuring Anthony Fenner’s try on his return to the team following injury. This one, again in the first half, follows the other Anthony’s (Matato) exhilarating run down the right wing. Such is his strength, it looks as if Matoto could have gone on and scored himself, but he unselfishly off-loaded to Fenner who was well positioned on his inside shoulder. James Otutaha is the player trying to chase down.
Great try again.