The results of the Man of the Match award for Saturday’s game are interesting in that all the top three places went to the back row:
- Brett Daynes – 28%
- Olly Povoas – 22%
- Latu Makaafi – 18%
On the morning of the game I did write that:
Brett Daynes, alongside Olly Povoas and Latu Makaafi makes for an interesting back row and certainly one that will prove a handful for any side in our division
And so it proved against Old Albanian.
Brett is in a fine run of form this season and seems to be playing as well, if not better, than at any time during his two spells at the club. It’s the second award he’s won this season already and whilst Olly Povoas got the nod from the Sponsors’, in truth all three had terrific games – as it was, I voted for Latu, although it was certainly a close call.
Once again, John Coles has been kind enough to send me the photos he took on Saturday, some of which I’ll feature in a later post as they provide some interesting insights that you just don’t see from the side-lines or the main stand. And just for those who might be interested – remember James Stokes’ scoring face (which was confirmed by several on Saturday following his exhilarating 80m run to the line!), well there’s another player who also has one!
This could become a recurrent theme.
All will be revealed in due course…
And amongst John’s photos are some great shots of Brett, Olly and Latu as you can see below:
Although Brett has tended to play at 6, he’s a very able 8 as well and one of the things that struck me on Saturday was just how well he reads the game. His positional play was excellent, exemplified when he was the only player back to defend a deep OA kick into our 22 with the OA chasers ahead of the Cov defence that had been turned by the kick. Not only that but he also gave the ball a healthy, if not altogether accurate, hoof into touch to clear any threat of danger.
No thoughts of running the ball back and getting himself isolated from his team mates.
He’s the sort of go-to player every team needs and someone rightly made the comment on here a couple of days ago that they were surprised that he hadn’t featured in the MVP poll. His contribution to the team is very significant and if there’s such a thing as a utility forward then Brett is it, able to cover from 4 to 8 and a player you certainly need in your match day squad, if not your starting XV. He’s also a very useful back of the line jumper.
His work rate is always incredibly high and like both Latu and Olly, he has a really physical approach to his game whether in defence or attack and seems to like nothing better than running straight lines into the opposition forwards to set up good ball.
Forget Olly’s age for the moment, what really amazes me is just how strong he is for someone his size. His power to weight ratio must be extraordinary and he rarely comes off second best in a tackle and he consistently makes good metres in every game.
He was injured during the pre-season and I recall watching him being put through his paces by the Support Team as he was at the stage where he could undertake a lot of straight line running but wasn’t able to take part in any sort of impact training.
He was relentless in his running. 80-100m sprints I would guess with a timed break of not much more than a minute if that, and then off he’d go again. It was the summer and hot and he was pouring with sweat, but he kept going for the length of the training session, eyes almost glazed over with concentration. His speed didn’t lessen, nor did his will and it’s was evident then that he was as tough as nails.
Latu has been a rock all season and has brought a level of physicality to Cov that we haven’t seen for some time. He’s so strong both in attack and defence and invariably he’ll draw in two or three defenders when he’s taking on the opposition defence and even then there’s no guarantee that they’ll put him down.
If there was a prize for the ‘champagne moment’ of the game, then for me it would be the above. The OA player had seen a gap and made good metres from deep in his own 22 and it looked for all the world as the counter attack was on, with players out wide to his right and only Fraser Dingwall there to cover. Had the attacker been given the time to make the pass we would have been in trouble.
Out of nowhere, Latu appeared, having been a good 7-10 metres behind. Rather like a hunting lion, he pounced and there was never any hope of the OA player getting away from him. He showed real pace to run the player down and it typifies his never-say-die attitude.
The last photo just brings home the sheer power of the man. Three defenders, two already on him and a third drawn across to cover and still the he bulldozes his way through them…(edited)
Irrespective of the outcome of this season in terms of promotion, it has been a huge pleasure watching Latu. He plays the type of rugby supporters always warm to and the applause he got when he came off clearly shows he has won the hearts, and minds, of the Cov faithful.
Alan S asked if it would be possible to produce a Man of the Match league table to show which players have been the most successful in terms of these MofM supporters’ polls. I’m happy to give it a go, although I’m not sure how best to present the info as creating a table in the hosted version of WordPress is far too advanced for me and it won’t accept one produced in Word.
Hopefully, I’ll have something ready before too long.
As for the game itself, well it was very much a case of job done, let’s move on to the next.
Not the most fluid of games, disjointed as a result of the wet pitch, some uncharacteristic errors in handling from Cov, some loose passing, a few missed tackles here and there and a referee who probably wasn’t consistent enough and wasn’t prepared to let the game flow.
It was an entertaining game considering the conditions, more so than we probably had the right to expect. I’ve probably got this wrong, but to me there were some strong individual performances but the overall team performance was less convincing. Good certainly and definitely it was a great way to start the new year, but there were too many basic errors and we benefited greatly by the opposition’s dysfunctional lineout and a catalogue of errors at the breakdown. We didn’t quite click as we often have done this season.
Fair play to OAs though, they suffered a series of injuries early on that must have disrupted their game plans and whilst they were outgunned and outplayed, they certainly didn’t let their heads drop. And, as you’d expect from such a relatively young side, their fitness wasn’t an issue either.
In truth, there was too much turnover ball from both teams and against more clinical sides we could have been punished rather more than we were. One of the key differences was that we had players with the pace and vision to turn an OA mistake into a Cov try in just a few short phases of play. They didn’t.
Players like White, Stokes, Trimble and Knox all have the quality to capitalise on an unforced error made by the opposition. There have been times this season where every mistake made has been punished, but we must have squandered at least three or four other tries on top of the eight we scored. Max Trimble could arguably have had a hatrick had errors not occurred in the build up.
Eight tries and still a lot more to come.
I’ll settle for that.
The scrum held up well. Luc Jeannot’s first start looked promising and he seems very mobile and carries the ball. The referee had to have a tell him to calm things down a bit at one stage but I’d never be someone to advocate the quelling of the exuberance of youth.
I can’t see the game being quite so comfortable next week if we make the same errors in the same numbers as we did on Saturday. But players were possibly a little ring rusty with just the one competitive game in a month and there were some different combinations of players out there on Saturday which might have taken a while to get used to.
Certainly I left the game more than happy with the outcome and pleased that players like Pete White and Tony Fenner had got through it seemingly unscathed.
On the homepage of the blog I’ve set up a link to a new page that will detail all the retentions and signings for the 2018/19 season, by position and length of contract (if known), as and when the club announces them.
To access the information, just go to the homepage and underneath the header (the main photo), click on the link that reads ‘Coventry Squad 2018/19’.
At the moment, the only news surrounds the retention of Nile Dacres so he is the sole player populating the page as of now. If you click on his name, it will take you to the club’s official announcement containing additional information that you might find of interest/useful. That will be the case for every player added.
There will be times when it becomes clear that certain players will be here next season even though a formal announcement from the club has yet to be made; Olly Povoas is an obvious example given what Rowland Winter said in his mid-season review. However, I won’t add names until an official notification has been made.
Many thanks to Jack Preece for forwarding a photo of himself holding the blog’s MVP trophy.
Thanks, also, to the club for passing it on to him.
Jack’s a worthy winner of the poll which proved to be by some distance the most popular, in terms of votes at least, of the three that have been held so far.
The consensus seems to be that it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just 4 choices such is the quality of this current squad, which therefore makes Jack’s win all the more special.
Can you imagine how tough it could be next season with another probable influx of players of the calibre of those who have arrived this season, or better even, together with those already here?
Jack’s photo wraps up the only remaining loose end as far as this year’s poll is concerned. Before I sign it off totally though, I must just finish with a final thank you to everyone who voted and without whose involvement none of this would have been possible.