Player Ratings and more from John Coles

25Sep - by Tim - 2 - In Club talk

Say, don’t you realize. Is there nothing left inside?
Hey, did I get you wrong? Say, where has your number gone

I know just what you are. Don’t push your luck too far.
You’re not untouchable….
I’d get in touch with you, I only wish you knew that
I’ve got your number written on the back of my hand.
I’ve got your number.

The Jags – Back Of My Hand (I’ve Got Your Number)

I remember John Wilkinson saying a while back that he had absolutely no time for player ratings. One of the reasons JW was so anti them was that as a reporter, he was often too busy compiling his report during the game, either on paper or in his head, to focus on individual players and how they performed.

I can well understand John’s comments and he is probably not alone in his feelings towards them, even amongst supporters.

However I have to say I always enjoy looking through them when they are included in match reports, whatever the sport. If they are seen just as a basic marker, rather than as a serious assessment of a player’s performance, they usually throw up some useful discussion points. Indeed, were there software in WordPress to allow it, I’d definitely offer a chance for readers of the blog to rate each player out of 10 for home games at least.

I’ve searched for an app that might offer something similar but as yet have drawn a blank – if anyone knows of anything suitable, then please let me know.

Averaged out over the season, you’d get a reasonable idea of the players whose performances are the most consistent, certainly from the perspective of the supporters (although that might be very different from that more critical eyes of the coaches).

As it stands, the only ratings for Cov games appear in The Rugby Paper, and then not for all games. See left.

Take this Saturday, for instance.

As it was an away game the report in The Rugby Paper was penned by the home reporter, in this case Andrew Beacham. AB is clearly happy to include individual player ratings, although for Cov’s home games they have tended to be left out, even when Tom Branston took over. I’m kind of hoping that whoever takes over the mantle of club media supremo will decide to include them in the future where possible.

We’ll know soon enough.

Anyway, I’ve included last weekend’s gradings from Cov’s game against Hartpury just in case anyone is unsure as to what it is I’m referring to  and to show why they can be so interesting, even if you’re not a rugby anorak (which I’m definitely not btw!).

The marks out of 10 were given by the home side’s reporter – and whilst reporters perhaps should be more impartial than most, that’s something that has to be taken into account.

Even a cursory glance suggests that Andrew Beacham has been more than fair in his judgements…

First things first – and please remember this is not meant to be taken too seriously – just by adding up the scores of the two starting XVs, you get a sense of just how close the game actually was  – Hartpury totalled  97 and Cov 96 – pretty much honours even, then.

But within that there are some interesting positional differences.

Coventry’s starting back row of Ram, Preece and Peters (The name is incorrect in the report, with Ben Adams recorded as both starting and being on the bench) amassed a score of 21, compared to 18 for Hartpury, with each of the Cov players a point ahead of their Hartpury counterparts. That has to be something of a plus to take out of the game, especially coming from the a source that could be forgiven for seeing things differently.

They certainly worked very hard and were prominent defensively at the breakdown and although Hartpury had periods where they had plenty of possession, they seldom had quick ball to use  – although in the last quarter, they weren’t particularly interested in providing it.

In the front row, Gibbons, Tolmie and Beech scored 18, against 20 for Hartpury’s front three – which is probably fair, given we weren’t anything like as dominant in the scrum as we have been even in the earlier Championship games.

As you’d expect given Cozens’ Man of the Match display from fly-half, Hartpury won the battle of the half-backs, with a score of 14 against Coventry’s 12. However, despite cooments to the contrary, Jake Sharp was given a 6 which was pretty much in line with his team mates – and that from a neutral. Not a game he will have been happy with, but certainly nowhere near as poor as has been suggested in some quarters. Others around him didn’t excel either.

Kind of makes a point on its own, does that…

Outside of the 9 and 10, Hartpury still outscored us in the backs – 33 against 32. That does surprise me a little as Coventry’s three-quarters seemed much more of an attacking threat, although I guess defensively the Hartpury backs were more prominent?

They’re just talking points, but they do add to discussions and it’s always interesting to see how others see a game, especially those in the know.

I’m not sure what the viewing habits of other supporters are, but when I’m watching Cov, my focus is almost always on what Cov are doing and not the opposition, so for me to have noticed someone in the Hartpury side, for instance, they will have had to have a real impact on the game.

It’s always been the case – I’m presuming it’s the same for most supporters and I do genuinely wish at times I wasn’t so blinkered, so I’d never be able to give every player an individual score. Which is back to John Wilkinson’s earlier comment.

That said, hopefully there will be further ratings for Cov appearing in The Rugby Paper over the course of the season, even if it is for the away games only.

An opportunity for supporters to get involved in something of this nature in seasons to come, either on the club website or via the Messageboard or Supporters’ Cub websites, would be a great way of determining the supporters’ player of the season.

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I was really pleased that John Coles was at the Hartpury game on Saturday, although it was tinged with disappointment when I first saw him from afar as he wasn’t carrying his camera or lenses, so the assumption on my part was that he was just there to watch game…

An message from him later that evening with a link to the photos he’d taken at Hartpury was all the more gratefully received as a result – I can only assume that he was keeping his cameras out of the rain for as long as possible. I know it’s his chosen profession, but how you manage to take such good photos in such miserable conditions is well beyond me.

As I’ve occasionally done in the past, I’ve included a few of his photos below, ones that offer an insight into the game or simply those  that might be of interest as stand alone photos. Since I’m often face down looking at my phone whilst I’m tweeting away, I’ll sometimes miss things which are made much clearer if I can retrospectively see a photo. That and because I’m short-sighted anyway and can’t wear glasses and text at the same time…nightmare.

And as for bi-focals and omni-focals, having tried them and missed steps or tripped over my own feet on many occasions, they’re definitely not for me.

So thank goodness John Coles’ photos.

Anyway, here they are:

 

 

 

 

It’s a little unfair to take one photo in isolation and assume that what’s captured in the moment is a reflection of the game, but this one does tell a story. Cov have made the tackle on one of the Hartpury forwards and Jack Preece, as ever, is there on his feet to try to win the turnover. However, there are five Hartpury players in support, with only James Stokes close for Cov, and he’s probably not the player you’d choose to be there in that situation. The next couple of frames would probably show Jack driven clean off the ball and firmly on his backside.

I felt for much of the game Hartpury were a bit quicker to the breakdown and this does illustrate that…the umbrellas on the far side also show just how miserable the weather was at this point in the game.

A similar situation arises in the photo below. Pete White is caught in an isolated position and there are immediately five Hartpury players around him, with only Jake Sharp close for Cov and even he’s some way off. I can’t remember what followed, but Hartpury had certainly given themselves every chance of winning the ball and Pete would have been in danger of having to hold on too long and end being penalised as a result.

In the photo below, John captures the moment Pete exits the field following a knock to the head. A mandatory HIA (Head Injury Inspection) was required, and whilst fortunately there was no evidence of any concussion, that was the end of Pete’s involvement in the game.

A worried Jon Sharp looks on from the sidelines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no shortage of size in the Cov front five on Saturday, with Beech, Tolmie and Gibbons making for a fairly big front row. Behind them Jubb and Voss are tall and powerfully built – although I’m guessing that there are bigger second row combinations elsewhere in the Championship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coventry’s lineout performed pretty well on Saturday, losing one on their own throw (as did Hartpury) and conceding the penalty for James Gibbons’ crossing. This picture shows the height that Tom J is able to attain – I don’t think he could be lifted any higher and I always marvel at just how athletic some second rows are even with the help of the lifters.

A great photo and my screensaver until John’s next batch of photos!

Knoxy had a pretty decent game and looking back at the player ratings, if the average Cov score was a 6, Rob would definitely have been a 7 for me. He was having to rely on scraps at times, but he was a handful with ball in hand. He’s such a powerful runner and the first of the photos shows him powering through the tackle and he’s clear by the time John’s taken the second.

There’s plenty of competition for places out wide when everyone is fit, but Rob has certainly made himself a key figure in this current squad. He looks to have worked hard on his fitness over the summer, especially in the gym, and his strength is really telling in the few games I’ve seen him thus far.

One of the brighter moments in the game if you were a Coventry supporter is coming up now…for the second week running Tom Kessell’s vision and speed of thought resulted in a Cov score. This time he took a quick tap, almost too quick such was his movement, and after a short break he fed Stokes with a delightfully timed pass.

James still had a lot to do, but his pace took him between two defenders and he was able to beat the chasers to the line for a really well taken try…

..it felt at that moment the tide had turned. Cov had really upped their game and Hartpury looked very uncomfortable when Cov ran at them. Sadly it wasn’t to be

Before the Stokes’ try, Pete White had capitalised on a mistake at the base of the Hartpury scrum as they defended their line  to score Cov’s first try just on the half-time whistle. It could and should have been a key moment but despite Stokes’ effort and a more disciplined second half performance, Hartpury had enough experience to see out the Coventry recovery.

The last image is the one that perhaps sums up just why Hartpury were so effective on the day. Their rugby might not have been the most attractive to watch, especially as a Cov supporter, but it was very effective and although they weren’t particularly expansive, Luke Cozen was immense for them at fly half.

Luke Cozens – 010, license to kick…

(Damn, I wish I’d thought of that for Sunday’s post).

He was metronomic all game and whereas our  kicking from hand often lacked precision, his didn’t and he regularly put us onto the back foot…John Coles’ photo below captures him in full flow perfectly:

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I’d be mightily impressed if anyone remembers this one from the Jags. As far as I’m aware, they were one hit wonders and although Back Of Your Hand did make the charts and TOTP, it was downhill from there and they weren’t really heard of again.

They were a support for a band I saw at Leeds Uni, I can’t even remember who the main act was, but they’d been touted in NME at the time as a mix of Costello, Graham Parker and Joe Jackson, so we’d had to go and have a look. I even bought the single!

The punchy lyrics were reminiscent and although the song was really catchy and they were pretty good live, sadly they never made it.

Great riff running through it though…the short guitar solo is even a bit Mark Knopfler-ish?

2 thoughts on “Player Ratings and more from John Coles”

  1. Another good read Tim. The photos do also tell a story of their own.
    Just a note on the breakdown; This was covered in part at a recent referees evening, where a couple of players (Jack Preece and George Oram) described how they approach the breakdown and often they will only commit the tackler and one more man so as to free up tacklers. It very much depends who they are playing, the time on the clock, where on the pitch, who the closest men are and all sorts of other decisions. Petes though, just looks like he ran away from or had no support.

    1. Thanks for that, Paul – kind of makes sense now but with so few Cov players close, it looks like they could be susceptible to a quick pick up and drive through the middle of the park, but that could just be as a result of the angle the photo was taken. Hope all is well…

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