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Woah, we’re half way there…Woah, livin’ on a prayer

Oh, we’ve got to hold on, ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got
Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer

Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer

We’re up to the half way mark now…Saturday is game 15 out of 30.

In their first 13 games of the season, Ampthill had conceded an average of just over 16 points a game.

And then they played Coventry.

It’s now 20.

Cov’s is a little under 14.

59And whilst mentioning points conceded, it’s worth a look at this week’s league table and in particular the points’ difference – Coventry’s is a mere 404 points, more than next weekend’s opponents, Darlington Mowden Park, have scored all season!

More in fact than any club in the league, other than Plymouth.

And they’ve only scored 7 more.

It has to be said, this is some season we’re having…it’s all too easy to get a bit blasé about it all, but we really are in the midst of something special here.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself.


Club Pld W D L F A PD TBP LBP Ded Pts Rec %
Coventry 14 14 0 0 595 191 404 12 0 0 68 97.14
Darlington Mowden Park 14 10 1 3 400 310 90 11 2 0 55 78.57
Blackheath 14 10 0 4 395 266 129 7 2 0 49 70
Plymouth Albion 13 8 2 3 411 246 165 9 2 0 47 72.31
Ampthill and District 14 8 1 5 367 274 93 8 4 0 46 65.71

Just how good Ampthill were on Saturday seems to have divided supporters, with some suggesting that they played well, whilst others, myself included, believing this was a decidedly ordinary Ampthill performance from a side that is probably going to falter a little in the second half of the season – certainly on that performance anyway.

To be fair,  in terms of previous results, a win ratio of 70% suggests Ampthill were in the top 4 on merit, and having taken Darlington Mowden to the wire up at the Northern Echo Arena the weekend before, the form guide showed they were more than ready to take on Cov.

But on Saturday, Ampthill were outclassed for pretty much the whole game and the 63-14 scoreline didn’t flatter Coventry at all. In fact, had we been just a little more clinical when we had all the early possession but weren’t quite able to make our superiority count in that opening 20-25 minutes in particular, we could have scored in excess of 80.

As it is, if National One wasn’t alive to the fact for the first time since Coventry was relegated to National One back in 2010, this Cov side is the real deal.

No false dawns, no flattering to deceive, barring catastrophes Cov will be in the top three come the end of April.

And whether it’s first, second or third could be strongly influenced by the outcome of the game on Saturday.

A win would see us unbeaten for the entire first half of the season, a feat than can only ever be matched in the 15 games thereafter, never beaten.

If we sit atop of National One with 72 or 73 points after the Darlington game, we would be clear favourites for the title and, with that, Championship rugby next season.

A defeat, well we’d still be favourites with second-placed Darlington having to come to us in April. Much would depend how we react to the loss. A run of two or three poor results and it opens up the league title to the three or four teams immediately below us.

Pivotal, then, is next Saturday.

But not crucial.

The fixture list hasn’t always been kind to us this season, with the five games leading up to Christmas including three of the four teams immediately below us and ending with the Moseley derby which can sometimes require the form book to be thrown clean out of the window.

However, there is certainly an advantage to us in having played Ampthill immediately after they played Darlington Mowden Park, if only psychologically. With the Ampthill game fresh in their minds, and remember Darlington only won it in the dying seconds of the game, Coventry’s total demolition of Ampthill will surely set the alarm bells ringing up at the Northern Echo Arena.

It would be interesting to know what the reaction of the Darlington players was when they first heard the Cov score, having just come off the pitch with a very narrow 2 point win over Fylde and having struggled to beat Ampthill at home the week before.

Surprise? Definitely.

Shock? Probably.

Fear? As a Cov supporter, I certainly like to think they’re more than a little concerned about our visit there in just five days time.

…if they’re not then they’re certainly in danger of being a bit too complacent.

Ampthill’s Head Coach, Paul Turner, suggested in The Rugby Paper that he:

felt at half-time we’d left too much on the table and made so many errors, which is uncharacteristic of us

He also went on to add:

We talked at half time about getting the first score in the second and then we made the same errors.

It wasn’t our day, but Coventry were far above us, they’re the best side we’ve played this season by a mile.

They’re quality outfit and every time we made a mistake in the second half they punished us

A pretty fair reflection, although the majority of the mistakes Ampthill made were forced ones rather than unforced, the result of Coventry’s ability to press quickly and hold their defensive line, knowing the opposition would crack first.

No mention of the state of the pitch, though…?

Rowland Winter made a couple of equally interesting comments, ones which will encourage Cov supporters and put fear into the hearts of the opposition.

I think we’ve played better before and I think we’ve got another level we can go to. Gradually this team is starting to settle the more weeks we play, we’re only halfway through the season, and I’m sure things will get better and players will gel together more as the season goes on.

I wonder, if we all ask nicely, if Cov could somehow work it so that they hit that new level as early as next weekend?

Or maybe the weekend after against Mose?

Or preferably both?

63-14 against a top four side and things will get better. Blimey…

Even as the season started,  RW was suggesting that we wouldn’t see the best of Cov until after Christmas, so all he’s being is consistent.

He also added:

I don’t think Ampthill threatened us too much, they are quite a limited side

which is something I would definitely agree with, although I guess there is an argument to be had that they were limited because we prevented them from being anything but limited…

He’s certainly not attaching too much significance to the manner of Coventry’s win, suggesting that Darlington will be much tougher competition :

We’ve got a big week next week and a big, physical threat from Darlington who are solid on their patch, so we need to forget about today and concentrate on that

but in recognising that Darlington are just ‘solid’, perhaps Rowland Winter believes that however good they are at home, if Coventry play as he knows they can, they won’t have the game to beat us.

Confidence is key…and at the moment Cov possess that in abundance, without every coming across as arrogant.

Top marks to RW and the coaches for keeping the players so grounded.

Shame they can’t do the same for a few of us supporters of goodly years who should know better…

…but don’t.


Very many thanks to everyone who took part in the ‘Man of the Match’ poll over the weekend.

The results of the votes are as follows:

1st – Jack Preece – 28%
2nd – Tom Kessell – 28%
3rd – Sam Tuitupou – 26%

A reminder – the sponsors opted for Sam Tuitupou.

Whilst Jack Preece and Tom Kessell both achieved the same percentage of votes, Jack actually got one more vote in total, hence the reason he takes the top spot.

These polls have become increasingly popular, especially this season, with just short of 200 voting this week. Not quite the record, but not far off

What sets this one apart from the rest, though, is that only 8 players actually polled any votes – a rarity in that almost everyone usually picks up a vote or two, even those on the bench more often than not.

Players like Oram and Nilsen picked up a few votes, but in the end it seems that the consensus was that Preece, Kessell and Tuitupou stole the show. The fact that no one player was ahead by a distance probably confirms that despite some individuals featuring more prominently than others, this was still very much a team performance.

Jack Preece continues to feature in every poll, only on this occasion he heads it.  Coventry crowds have always appreciated a Jack Preece – the kind of player that rolls up his sleeves and gets on with the job without ever really  doing the fancy stuff.

Players like Sammy T and Tom Kessell are going to stand out more simply because of the position in which they play, so it speaks volumes for the respect in which JP is held by supporters that on the day when Tom K scores a hatrick of tries and Sammy T probably has his most influential game so far in a Cov shirt, it’s Jack who gets the nod in the end.

Both TL and ST did have storming games though and to do so in front of your home crowd must have been particularly gratifying for both of them. Tom has made a big impact since his arrival and whilst his contract officially ends at the end of this month, supporters are hoping that he’ll be retained until the end of the season. With two scrum halves of the calibre of  White and Brazier already here, both representing England Counties last season, that shows how well he’s been performing.

RW was fairly adamant at the training session a couple of weeks ago that we would not be keeping him on but he might be someone we look to in the future, so unless something has changed…

And Rowland Winter best summed up Sammy T in his post-match comments:

A fresh Sam showed what he can do and he was a big difference between the sides for much of the game, but that’s what you expect from a player of his capabilities

He made two or three scintillating line-breaks and showed once again exactly why Coventry brought him to the BPA. Like Phil Nilsen, he seems to love the relative informality of the club and he is another player who brings his young family to watch whenever possible…


This is one of my photos, you can tell that because it’s out of focus…

Great to see…yet another reminder of just how important it is in life to get your priorities right.



John Coles has very kindly given me access once again to the photos he took of the Ampthill game. They are stunning and whilst he has never asked me to do so, I do feel I should in return give him a bit of free advertising in recognition of his kindness,  so his website is  John Coles Photography ; weddings a speciality.

There, I feel better for that…

So here are a few from the many that John took on the day:




George Oram on the charge…a player who loves to run with the ball and always makes the hard yards. Often goes unnoticed in a team with such big names in it. Great signing!





Luke Narraway is a real force at the line-out, not only on our throw but also on the oppositions’ and he has stolen good ball this season. It’s a great photo of him in front of the main stand. He certainly seems to have got the height – Nile Dacres is having to do the lifting on his own as JL (?) isn’t tall enough!!! 🙂


Sam Tuitupou makes the break and finds himself in acres of space…seconds later he’s drawn the defender and a grateful Tom Kessell is sprinting for the line and Cov are another 5 points to the good.


Jack Preece dives, or perhaps falls,  over the line to score – the man was everywhere on Saturday. Has there been a better 7 at the club in the last 20 years?


With the season approaching the half-way mark, it could only ever be Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ –

Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer


Maybe, it’s a little too soon to be singing ‘We’ll make it I swear’ and whilst I might be saying the odd prayer on the eve of a Cov game,  the faith I have I’m afraid is in those that lead the club rather than any divine influence.

Still, great song, even if I’m not a Jon Bon Jovi fan…


1 reply »

  1. I notice DMP are giving away free tickets to local schools – with prizes for the school or schools who take the most tickets. At least with some more in the ground it might not seem such a soul-less chasm.

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