Early start this morning which means that Mrs S might well have to forego her cup of tea in bed this morning.
A 2.00 pm kick does at least mean an earlier return which is always a bonus and with it time to make her mug of cocoa and iron her paper on my return.
In a pre-match article on the Old Elthamian website, DoR Gavin Lach says:
We like to move the ball around, so do Coventry – so it should be an entertaining game
Well that’s a promising start – I’m always happier when we play teams who like to run at us. Our defence is solid these days and inevitably in so doing, the opposition leaves itself exposed to the counter and I haven’t seen a better side on the counter than Cov in our league over the last two seasons.
It’s also clear that he was less than happy at his team’s performance against Ampthill last week:
The OEs boss has rung the changes from the side that went down 33-7 at Ampthill. Alex Rogers returns to the front row in place of Stefan North and Freddie Hosking comes into the second row instead of Tom Scorgie to partner Adam Preocanin. Tom Parker and Ben King, who both added impetus and energy coming on as second half replacements last weekend, get the nod at scrum-half and No.8 respectively while Extras skipper Ryan Munnelly comes onto the bench along with Ollie Claxton
Lach continues with the kind of comment that’s appearing in most pre-match reviews involving Cov these days:
Coventry are an outstanding team, no question…They are red hot favourites to win the league title and nobody gives us a prayer of winning tomorrow. But there is absolutely no point in going into the game with any fear. Plenty of our squad have experience of these types of games. We have absolutely nothing to lose, so let’s roll the dice and see what happens
Always seems to be something of a get out of jail free, that one. I can quite understand why coaches say it, but as a supporter, I’d prefer to hear something more positive – we’ve looked at the tapes, maybe areas we can work on etc etc. Rolling the dice leaves it all down to luck, probably not the best strategy to go into a game with.
OE are mid-table, have won half their games, have the league’s current leading try scorer and are playing at home in conditions that won’t suit Cov. Of course they have a chance…at the very least the players and the coaches should be backing themselves…? Cov are definitely favourites but surprises do happen. Esher have already had a couple this season and by all accounts have deserved them…and not a die in sight.
Interestingly, OEs are top of Zoo One, the same league that our Development Academy play in and as a result:
We promote from within and these guys have trained all season and done what has been asked of them. So they get their chance
Now that’s something that deserves some praise – OE has chosen not to go down the dual re/loans route that some sides have done and are sticking with their own.
For teams like Cov, where there is a massive gulf between Academy and the senior squad and where the club has real aspirations of promotion that isn’t always possible (although there still are opportunities for youngsters who do particularly well, like Gray, Jeannot and Asiedu).
For OE though, they’ve decide to go promote their own and that surely has to be admired when so much of national rugby is results driven these days?
By the sound of it, Gavin Lach has made his feelings clear and maybe Coventry will feel the backlash today. Whilst making a number of changes is never ideal, it doesn’t necessarily work in our favour.
Despite all the successes Cov has enjoyed this season, any trip to London fills me with unease. Once bitten is bad enough, but it was three times in just a few short weeks last season and that takes some getting over, especially considering the manner of those Coventry defeats.
Different times now though and a very different team, The one the coaches have picked looks to be strong across the pitch. And extremely mobile.
It will be the first time we’ve had the chance to see Dacres and Jubb together and it’s yet another strong permutation in the second row. Both have played in the back row before now and their mobility could be influential, especially if the OE pack begins to tire.
Dacres would be first choice for me all day long but, with everyone fit, Oram, Poole, Jubb and Gray provide something of a headache for the selectors. It wasn’t that long ago that Poole and Jubb were good enough to be playing in the team that won its last eight games last season and yet, in all probability, Oram and Dacres are currently ahead of them, when fit.
I really enjoyed watching Jubby play. I imagine he must be a little frustrating at times because he gets himself into positions perhaps he shouldn’t on occasions. He often seems to be looking for the chance to run with the ball when occasionally he would be better getting stuck in at the breakdown or just picking up and driving at the opposition.
He’s also one of better players at the restart and its not uncommon for him to win good ball from our own kick, something which can put us on the front foot straight after a score.
Welcome back, Tom!
I remember going to a training session at the Massey Ferguson ground back in August and Rowland Winter pointing out Luc Jeannot as one of the youngsters who was really impressing early on.
And he’s continued to do so and finds himself in yet another strong bench, together with Scott Tolmie, Latu Makaafi, Ben Palmer and Max Trimble. Most teams in our league would welcome the opportunity to start with them, let alone bring them on as ‘finishers’.
Luc is certainly going to get a decent run out today and hopefully by the time he comes on, Nathanael Titchard-jones, Phil Nilsen and Jimmy L will have started to gain dominance over what is seen to be a strong OE front 3.
I don’t know enough about the dark arts of the front row to comment on just how good Luc is or what makes him such a promising prospect, but on the occasions he has come on after 30 minutes or so, or started even, the Cov pack has always done well and he’s earned himself several pats on the head from the more experienced Coventry forwards after some key scrums.
In the centres, Dingwall and Fenner are probably amongst the best two tacklers in the backs. Fenner doesn’t hold back on anyone and is fearless – quite how his body stands up to some of the hits he makes is beyond me. Dingwall has looked extremely solid defensively as well and whilst as a pairing they might potentially lack that creative spark of, say Tuitupou and Stevens, they are both good distributors and with Stokes, Matato and Knox waiting in and on the wings, there’s real speed and strength in today’s backs.
Fenner is a great footballer, with a good rugby brain on him and he’s definitely capable of unlocking defences and his try last Saturday shows his just how good his support play is too. The Maisey/ Fenner partnership is an interesting one, not unlike I guess the Ford/Farrell one for England. It worked well last season when Wheatcroft was injured, although it tended to be Fenner at 10 and Maisey at 12.
Will Maisey seems to have made the 10 shirt his own for the moment, and given his consistent performances at the back end of last season and so far in this one, it is hardly surprising. Whether at some point the coaches will opt to give Will a well-earned rest and reinstate Tony F will be interesting, although I’m not sure they would risk that until the new year, given the importance of the games coming up.
The only slight downside to Will’s game this season. for me anyway has been his kicking, which in recent weeks hasn’t been as accurate as we’ve come to expect. Weather conditions haven’t always been suited to place-kicking, but last season Will’s success rate was almost 78% whilst it’s just over 70% this season.
Before Tony Fenner was injured last season, his was a staggering 84%! The thing with Will is, though, that he is so cool under pressure and that is priceless at times.
With Plymouth at home today to Ampthill in a 4th v 2nd match-up, a win for Coventry would see them break further clear of the team in fourth place. Cov still has to meet both the teams, as well as 3rd place Darlington Mowden Park, in the last few games in this first half of the season, so it’s important Cov take the five points today.
If Cov were to win its remaining games before Christmas, they would go into the new year with at least a three game advantage over their nearest rivals and potentially more, depending on how other results go over the same period (with Darlington and Ampthill still to meet each other as well).
Cov has worked really hard to get where it currently is. It’s something of a cliché I know, but success after Christmas could be very much be in its own hands and not dependent on anyone else’s results IF we win our games before Christmas. Offered the chance to gain promotion on the back of winning 111/14 of the games after Christmas, most supporters would have jumped at the chance.
As well as the win, it’s important we don’t suffer any more injuries today. With some of players currently out looking to get back into contention before too long, and with a blank weekend next week, we could go into the game against Plymouth with the likes of Oram and Boulton both available which would give us further options in the pack.
With England, Aviva Premiership and A League fixtures on the weekend of Coventry’s next game, visitors Plymouth might not be able to call upon some of their dual reg. players, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Cov coaches.
The two week break after today’s game is going to seem an eternity should Cov win this afternoon, but it is one that is much needed for all teams – 30 games a season has long been criticised as being too many, so any chance the players have to have some recovery time will be appreciated.
The Development Squad game appears to be on, too, which is good news and the team selected looks to be the youngest yet, with only Brendan Burke and Jack Higgins in the starting line-up not being part of the Development Academy, although Matt Price is also on the bench. Unfortunately, kick off coincides with that of the 1st team game/ so we won’t get to see how they get on – but good luck to all involved.
Looks as if the weather might not be set quite as fair as the forecast promised earlier in the week. With no shelter, it could be a wet one today.
It’s my intention to update Twitter as usual, but if it is raining hard then it is unlikely I’ll be able to do so with any regularity; with no Sam there to hold the umbrella and no available shelteris might not be feasible.
However, I imagine both Old Elthaminams and Coventry will do something similar. OE Twitter (@ElthamiansRFC) also tweet and Coventry’s match day updates have been much improved.
If you’re looking for no more than score updates and the odd comment, then certainly both of those will provide what you’re looking for.
I tend to tweet far more, so if you’re at home and just surfing the net trying to find out anything you can about the game, this might be a different option. The tweets, when combined, make a crude ‘commentary’ of sorts. Be warned though, you might get well over a 130 plus tweets during the course of the game, weather permitting – so if that is too much, mute me and use the two club’s official feeds.
Please bear in mind, I am a bit one-eyed when I tweet, covering more than just the scores as they occur.
I’m on @Cowshedtim
Apologies in advance for some of the typos that appear. For some though, deciphering my tweets adds to the occasion.
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. Click on it to increase its size.
Up the Cov!