Ealing Trailfinders: London Calling – now war is declared and battle come down

19Oct - by Tim - 4 - In Club talk

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls

London calling, yes, I was there, too
And you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
And after all this, won’t you give me a smile?

The Clash – London Calling

London Calling – again.

Rarely has it been a happy hunting ground for this ‘far away town, despite two wins from three visits there last season.

And memories of the recent trip down to Richmond are all too painful.

Yes, I was there too..

And we know what the coaches had to say about that. A team performance that was ‘unacceptable‘  with a number of players on whom the side so often relies failing to deliver.

It made for uncomfortable viewing and by all accounts several of the side were extremely disappointed by their own performance that day.

Rowland Winter talked earlier this week about ‘parking the home form‘ to focus on the last two away games and whilst I understand what he’s getting at, hopefully the coaches will also remind the players just how competitive they’ve been at times this season.

Performances have been anything but consistent so far and we’ve struggled away from the BPA, but we know the potential this squad has. Indeed, we’ve all seen glimpses of it already this season. However, even against Ealing, a side who’ll push Irish all the way over the next few months, if Cov were to enjoy a competitive opening 20 minutes and avoid getting caught cold again early on, then a win is perfectly possible.

It’s a big if admittedly, but one not beyond the realms of possibility.

By all accounts, Ealing are prone to come out all guns blazing, getting enough points early on to put the game to bed even though they seem to concede tries in the second half, something that has happened already in their last two home games this season. On an artificial surface and in what will hopefully be drier conditions than we’ve seen lately on Cov’s travels, maybe we are the team to cause an upset down at Vallis Way.

At home last weekend as well, Ealing were 31-19 up against Richmond only for the visitors to pull back to 38-32 by full-time, having much the better of the second half. And anything Richmond can do  I believe we can do better. When we lost to them two weeks ago, the result was as much down to our errors and poor discipline as it was to their strengths.

No, Ealing are definitely beatable.

Against Hartpury and Richmond there was a real expectation that Cov could and would bring back the points. Not so against Ealing. Could certainly, but we go into the game as very much the underdogs and maybe that will suit us more. The pressure isn’t on us as much as it is on Ealing and if we can get under their skin a little and go into the second half within a score or two, then I really do think the home side could have a real fight on their hands.

There were 1200 at the Richmond game last week, presumably a slight increase on the average gate when non-London sides are visiting. Coventry supporters are again travelling in numbers tomorrow and should Ealing be under pressure late on in the game, I fancy it will be the away support making most of the noise. And that could yet be a determining factor in deciding the outcome of the game.

For that to happen of course, then both players and supporters have to play their part, but I’ve always maintained Cov are a much better side against the top teams and Ealing certainly fit into that category.

Cov are quite capable of producing another performance along the lines of that against Darlington Mowden Park last season. Ealing will go into the game as clear favourites, but I reckon the smart money will be on Cov tomorrow. We’re due a performance away from home and what better team to produce it against than Ealing Trailfinders?

There’s been plenty of discussion in the rugby media this season as to just how popular a possible Ealing promotion into the Premiership is amongst those in control of the top tier.

By all accounts, not very…

…small crowds, second-rate facilities by Premiership standards and poor opportunities for marketing make it unlikely that Ealing would be welcomed with open arms.

I certainly don’t want to get embroiled into any discussions on that front other than to say that the team winning the Championship should always have an automatic right to promotion provided there are no health and safety issues involved. And already, I have been impressed with Ealing’s efficiency in terms of pre-ordering tickets for tomorrow’s game.

On Wednesday I happened to go onto their website just to check how much the tickets for Saturday would set me back, fearing there might be some sort of London weighting involved. As luck would have it, it was the last day of the ‘Early Bird’ discount, a very respectable reduction of £5 per ticket, enabling me to get two tickets for £30 rather than the £40 they would have cost on the day. There was no phone call involved, all I had to do was fill in a e-form with my card details included and that was that – within minutes I had a confirmation email which I’ve printed out as proof of purchase.

Very efficient, very easy and exactly what one would be hoping for from a Premiership side, or indeed from any with hopes of even being a Premiership side.

The last time I went to Vallis Way was when Ealing were in National One back in 2014/15, so I’m not altogether sure what to expect, but at £15 a ticket it’s definitely going to be reasonably priced whatever the facilities. Coventry’s Early Bird offer only reduces the cost to £18, so I imagine the cost of watching rugby at Ealing is among the cheapest in the Championship.

A London Club too.

Definitely gets a ten from Tim.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ben Nutley referred to Ealing as a top four Championship side in his video interview with Paul Smith earlier in the week. It’s a position:

 where we aspire to be, and it will be a tough test for us.

An interesting remark that one in that there’s no time frame attached. I think most supporters would have been quite happy had he added something along the lines of ‘in a couple of years time‘; the fact he hasn’t perhaps indicates that like the coaches it’s something that he believes isn’t that far off.

Is it something the players feel is still possible this season, perhaps?

Nutley talked about a couple more wins before the break for the Cup competition to ‘boost us back up the table‘, with no suggestion that another 8-10 points would be anything particularly special, even though that means beating Ealing tomorrow and Carnegie the week after. It’s that sort of winning mentality from players who have played with the top teams that is so refreshing – he’s used to being a winner and expects nothing less even at a club where prior to the arrival of Winter, winning was something of a luxury in some seasons.

I thought Nutley looked a little non-plussed when he came off after just 46 minutes of the Scottish game, but after having played so little rugby so far this season  I imagine it was precautionary as much as anything. If Nutley remains fit over the next few months, he Ram and Peters could be a really exciting back row,  especially with the likes of Makaafi and Preece to come in as required.

Winter has hinted at some of the changes the coaches might make to the team that beat Scottish last weekend. It looks like both Voss and Oram might start in the second row, especially with Alex Woolford injured in training on Tuesday. It appears Sharp might also make it into the side despite failing an HIA at half-time last Saturday – if he doesn’t it will be interesting to see if the coaches opt for Maisey or turn to Tony Fenner who moved to 10 when Sharp went off.

Arguably, Fenner is the form player of the two and with Will looking out of sorts and out of confidence against Richmond, maybe that’s the safer option? At this best, Will would I’m sure get the nod. I’m not altogether sure David Halaifonua is fit, certainly his form’s not been great these last couple of games and I’d even be tempted to play Fenner at 15 and leave Halaifonua on the bench to create problems later on in the game.

I have to confess I didn’t see the incident in which Andy Bulumakau was elbowed by Rory Jennings but if he’s still suffering some after effects of the blow, it must have been exerted with some force. However, with Stevens available and therefore probably partnering Tuitupou at 13, I would go for Rob Knox in preference to Andy out wide.

Andy has looked a threat in midfield but not so much on the wing and Rob hasn’t had a bad game all season and by all accounts he put in another good performance for the Nighthawks on Monday. It looks like James Stokes won’t be fit in time for Ealing which will be a blow, but even so a back three of Knox, Halaifonua/Fenner and Trimble on an synthetic surface has the potential to cause problems for any team in the Championship.

If there are one or two players with knocks or who are fatigued, do you risk them against Ealing or rest them to make sure you’ve got your strongest side available to face Carnegie at home? Tough call really, but in a league as tight as this and when our home form is as good as it currently is, then I go for resting a few players to ensure they’re fresh for next weekend in a game we’re more likely to win.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just as an aside, Sam Tuitupou has been something of a revelation so far this season for me. He’s been criticised a bit by some supporters but I think he’s added some real steel to the Coventry midfield, putting in some big hits and marshalling his line really well.

Every game he’s made two or three line-breaks and although he doesn’t have the pace these days to run the length of the pitch, he’s caused problems in opposition defences. I do think he’s been let down at times as there’s often been no support nearby, forcing the play to break down and occasionally Sam to be penalised as he’s left isolated and forced into holding on too long.

He’s played in all 7 games so far, starting in six of them. That’s far more than I’d expected and he’s come back looking even stronger than before he broke his leg. There’s absolutely no doubting his commitment to the club.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And there’s still plenty of other decisions to be made. For instance, do the coaches go for Nilsen or Tolmie, Kessell or White, Jeannot or Beech? Wherever you look, there’s competition for places and with many of those on the fringes desperate for a game, there really aren’t many shoo-ins these days.

Plenty has been made in recent weeks of Cov’s inability to play the elements away from home, especially in wet, rainy conditions.

Fortunately, tomorrow there appears little chance of any wet weather (9% apparently!) so Cov should be more far more competitive and if Sharp can get his backs going, then the fast surface could be as much an advantage for us as it is obviously is for Ealing.

Let’s hope that after the game…

 …and after all this, won’t you give me a smile?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once again I’ve been extremely indebted to John Coles for sending me his photos from the Scottish game last weekend. As always, they reveal things that you might not normally see from the stands, as is the case below.

Well before Rory Jennings elbowed Andy Bulumakau, the Coventry replacement had been shouldered after Pete White’s try by the Scottish 7. Nothing major, but it was totally unnecessary given the contact occurred well after the try had been scored:

Pete White touches down. And B and the Scottish 7 are in shot, but well apart.
There’s clear contact between the two players as Andy goes over to congratulate Pete White. Silly and unnecessary really…

There’s no effort on the part of the Scottish play to avoid contact. It’s never nice to see and surely not in the spirit of the game?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m a little embarrassed at including the following limerick given that ‘Leo’ has already posted one along the same lines on the Unofficial Messageboard. In my defence though, I had come up with this on the train on my way back from Liverpool on Wednesday.

Both of us have remembered the ‘There was an young lady from Ealing‘ limerick, although I was relieved to read his version was somewhat toned down from the one I remember in my youth…

Anyway, mine was an attempt to update it in view of tomorrow’s game:

There was once a strong team from Ealing,
Whose game against Cov was revealing,
Whilst strong in the backs,
Cov discovered some cracks.
And their scars will now take some healing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Clash: rebellious, anarchic, full of anger and rage…

London Calling.

Whilst Cov must be careful to channel their own disappointments following three successive away defeats, maybe they need to show rather more energy and commitment than we’ve seen away from the BPA so far this season. The anger and rage that everyone felt post-Richmond should be channelled into something positive. We’ve been in the ‘cupboard‘ far too long up at Cov – time to make a stand and do battle.

Once again, London Calling.

This should be a message to all Cov supporters:

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls

No surprise that Costello (along with Springsteen et al – see below) chose to sing London Calling at the Grammy Awards in 2003 as a tribute to Strummer, the year after his death. As someone said at the time, revolution never sounded better…

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Ealing Trailfinders: London Calling – now war is declared and battle come down”

    1. I think we’ll give a much better showing than the one against Richmond, but whether it will be enough to take the points is a different matter. Here’s hoping though

  1. HI Tim – as usual… etc etc

    In terms of selection, Nilsen before Tolmie for me – Capt Phil had a great showing last week, so earns the start shirt. More interesting that problem will become when Davy D is fit again! White before Kess for me at the moment as well. Pete seems to spark quicker ball. although there was one box kick that put us under huge pressure last week after the forwards had mauled us 20m into LS territory. Kess is a great player to have, but the fight for the shirt is just shaded by Pete at the moment, for me anyway, but then I don’t see the effort that goes into training so much.

    Luc J is proving that he’ll be tough to shift out of the TH shirt as is Gibbo on the Loose; George makes hard yards with ball in hand; Nuts and Jack R on the back row give us real bite and massive backup players in Latu, Preecey et al. We are truly blessed like that, so “all” we need to do now is score more points than the opposition…

    There were a few after the score / off the ball contacts last weekend, tackles beyond the ball, holding back etc, none of which appeared to be seen / addressed by the officials.

    Whichever team Rowland picks, it’ll be full of players who will be anxious to prove a point for their places as much as for the shirt!

    All very much in my humble opinion, of course…

    1. Pretty good calls all round, Rhys. I do think the arrival of Tom Kessell has really upped his game which is exactly what you’d hope for.

Comments are closed.