Somewhere over the rainbow…

11Nov - by Tim - 12 - In Club talk

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I wish upon a star, (someday I wish upon a star)
Where the clouds are far far far behind me
(And wake up where the clouds are far behind me)

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Bluebirds fly.
If birds can fly over the rainbow,
Then why, then why can’t I

Eva Cassidy – Somewhere Over The Rainbow

1
The impressive statue that stands in front of the main entrance to the clubhouse at Doncaster Rugby Club

Another game which, if you’re a Coventry supporter, Cov lost rather than Doncaster won.

I imagine Donny fans might have something to say about that, but neither side played particularly well on the day.  I do think it’s fair to say though that Coventry contrived very much to bring about their own downfall by conceding far too many penalties, missing a couple of key tackles and failing to take advantage of several very promising attacking positions.

The referee is rightly going to be the target for plenty of criticism…32 penalties ‘awarded’ during the game meant that there was no chance for either side to get going and as a result there was no fluency to the game whatsoever. If you add on the time spent both in the awarding of the penalties and the ensuing kicks/lineouts that so often followed, the ball was probably in play far less during the game than one might expect.

Mr Turvey’s whistle-happy approach makes him a prime candidate for the next Snow White Disney blockbuster, although fortunately the seven dwarfs didn’t have refereeing in mind when they sang their way to work:

Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we
Can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song
To help you set the pace

No merriment, no pace. Oh dear, Mr Turvey.

However, the referee was consistent in that both sides fell foul of him, if you’ll pardon the pun. At the breakdown and in the scrum neither side escaped, with Doncaster conceding 15 penalties themselves (to Cov’s 17).

From The Rugby Paper

My knowledge of the game isn’t good enough to know whether Mr Turvey was applying the laws over-zealously, or even correctly, but whatever the problem Cov surely should have had the experience and nous within the side to play him a little better?

As a spectator, that was the frustrating thing. Yes, the referee’s impact on the game was far greater than it should have been, especially at this level as Rowland Winter pointed out in his post match interview. Nevertheless, you would have hoped the players would have been able to adapt to the situation rather better than they actually did. |It wasn’t short on experience, after all.

There was one brief spell of the game when we were pressing deep in their 22 when, in the space of a minute or so, we conceded three penalties, one after the other, only to then find ourselves having to dig deep on our own 5m line.

Fortunately, we held on and were able to clear our lines but throughout the game we kept putting so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves, making a difficult away trip a whole lot harder.

It was so painful to watch.

Cov played the more entertaining rugby overall. Doncaster’s forwards dominated the set piece but our backs looked the more dangerous when they moved the ball wide, especially when James Stokes and Pete White came on for the last 20-25 minutes. Cov seemed more intent on getting players running on to the ball than perhaps they had done in their previous few games, but the quality of the passing wasn’t always as good as it needed to be and on occasions promising moves broke down as a result. That said, Doncaster’s handling was even worse and their fly half had to pick the ball off his toes more than once.

And there can also be absolutely no blame attached to the referee for the two tries we conceded.

In the first half, And Bulumakau failed to tackle his man on our 22 (RW said Andy slipped post-match which might well have been the case) leaving the Doncaster centre able to stride through a huge gap unopposed. And in the second half we missed a straight forward tackle 35 metres from our line (Ben Nutley?) and, with no cover, the Doncaster back rower was able to score with relative ease.

Two mistakes. Two tries.

Small margins that win or lose you games. It’s proving to be a very steep learning curve for Cov at the moment.

And again, the referee had no part to play when we messed up two attacking line-outs deep in Donny’s 22, one in each half. Having worked hard to put themselves into a possible try scoring situation, to then lose the line out because of a poor throw or misunderstanding between the hooker and jumpers was, I have to say, frustrating whether you’re a player, coach or supporter.

Small margins again.

We outscored Doncaster by 3 tries to 2, yet lost the game because we gifted then a couple of tries in a game where otherwise I thought the defence did a really decent job of keeping out the Doncaster forwards who on several occasions were camped deep into our 22.

On our line in fact.

As a team,  Cov worked really hard and but for those couple of tries, they looked more resolute.

My immediate reaction after the game was one of frustration, bordering on anger to be honest. Five away games and five defeats isn’t great for morale, especially as there are areas of Cov’s game which don’t as yet appear to be showing the kinds of improvement that you might hope for after the first 10 games. Discipline for one.

However, with a little more time to reflect, this was perhaps a better performance than some we’ve seen on our travels this season, especially those against Hartpury and Richmond. The set piece was a concern, but defensively were definitely more organised and having looked like we were well out of the game after half an hour or so, we clawed our way back into it and finished the stronger of the two sides.

That said, even with 20 minutes to go, Donny looked as if they’d hold on and I never really felt we were going to win the game, even when we were only 8 points down at half time. Some of that feeling was down to our previous away form this season admittedly, but it’s worth remembering that although the game finished 20-19, we only scored our final try in the 80th minute, just two minutes before the ref blew for the end of the game, so we were two scores off the win for a long time.

No one else has mentioned it, but I thought there should have been a good 3 minutes more of  time added on. Junior Bulumakau was down injured for a long time and with two sin bins, a host of changes off the bench and several other stoppages for minor knock/injuries, 2 minutes didn’t seem long enough. Not a grumble, just an observation.

1
The pot of gold that never was…

We were very fortunate as far as the weather was concerned with fairly clear skies where we were, although in the distance it was obviously raining before the game, as the photo above shows. The rainbow offered Cov a bit of encouragement, leading the team in the direction of that pot of gold, the elusive first away win that we all hoped Cov would be enjoying just 80 minutes later.

Sadly it wasn’t to be, but there were signs that things are improving. And as some of the key players return from injury and Cov also look to introduce one or two of the Academy youngsters who are fighting their way into contention for places with consistent performances for their junior clubs, well maybe that first win on our travels isn’t too far away now.

Will Flinn was a travelling reserve so perhaps he’s due a game shortly…?

Tough as it is watching Cov away from home, it must be a whole lot tougher for the players and coaches and they’ll be working hard to put things right.

As Sam and I were walking back to the coach, we happened to pass George Oram going in the opposite direction. Now I’ve never spoken to George and I’m surprised he even recognised us as Cov supporters, but as we walked by he looked at us directly and said ‘Sorry for the result’, an indication perhaps that the players knew they’d let this one slip by.

He could have said just ‘thanks for coming’, or ‘safe journey back’ or any of the countless other platitudes that we often come out with in those sorts of situations; indeed he needn’t have said anything. That he did and it was an open apology was somehow reassuring.

Tom Kessell came on to the coach to say a few words before we left. Never an easy ask when you’ve just lost.

Again.

But Tom said all the right things and stressed the team would get it right before too long away from home. And before he left he went down the aisle and shook hands with every single supporter.

And every supporter appreciated it.

Top man,

From The Rugby Paper

There weren’t any real standout performances on the pitch for Cov on Saturday, but equally, no one looked to be struggling. Whilst I can see why Voss was played in the back row, I’m not altogether sure it worked. He actually packed down in the second row and Woolford went to 6, but with so many problems at the breakdown (at least as far as the ref’s interpretation was concerned), then Nutley or Preece might have been more effective.

Both Voss and Woolford worked hard, as did Oram, and with the three of them fit again we certainly have more options in the second row now.

Junior Bulumakau had one sensational run, some 60 plus metres and beating several players in the process which led to Stokes’ first try. Pete W did what he always seems to do when coming on off the bench, he raised the tempo of the game and brought the backs a little more into the game, although that might be me reading too much into it.

Otherwise, it was a team effort on Saturday, for better and for worse.

3
The main stand at Doncaster is very good on the eyes…

Despite the fact that it cost a whopping £24 to sit (I’m only 10 months off a concessionary rate – I was so tempted), it is one of the better grounds we’ve been to in recent years. The main stand is a little smaller than that Cov’s but it is a great design and with the clubhouse bar spreading pretty much the full length underneath (Donny claims it’s the biggest bar in Yorkshire), it is very user-friendly. The folk there were welcoming and the crowd loud in their support of the home side which made for a decent atmosphere despite the lack of numbers.

Before the game got underway, Doncaster held their own Armistice commemoration with a reading of Robert Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’ followed by a minute’s silence. Simple but well-observed and entirely appropriate.

Well done Donny. A far cry from Ampthill…

1a
Cov lining up for the minute’s silence prior to the start of the game

Only 867 attended the game, although that’s only about 100 less than Donny’s average gate for the season.

Sadly, the Cup clearly hasn’t yet caught the imagination of the travelling Cov fans, with only 31 on the coach and just a handful of others making the journey, although given the cost involved that’s hardly surprising.

I’ll definitely be making the trip up to South Yorks for the league game especially with a more than realistic chance of watching Cov win next time if we progress as we ought. Donny had put out a strong side by all accounts, so given we are still a couple or more players short and this was a very different side to the one we might expect to see in early January, you have to believe.

No pot of gold on Saturday, but somewhere over that rainbow lies some hard earned riches…

…and the dreams we dare to dream really will come true.

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

Sorry, but no Judy Garland.

No, it has to be the late, great Eva Cassidy.

Given she died at just 33, she has left an amazing legacy and Songbird is still played a fair bit in the Smith household even now.

If you haven’t heard her version of Over The Rainbow, it’s well worth a listen.

 

12 thoughts on “Somewhere over the rainbow…”

  1. I always look forward to your posts Tim. I do hope that you are enjoying watching Coventry back at this level and that you don’t get too frustrated. It’s all part and parcel of watching your club and team continuing to try to improve itself – very often a step or two backwards in between moving forward.

    1. Hi Ed…no, I’m really enjoying this season, even if away games are somewhat frustrating at the moment! We’re still Cov which ever league we’re in! Many thanks for the support over the last couple of seasons, Ed, it has been really appreciated. Tim.

  2. Wonderfully forthright and honest. I have come to expect nothing less from a superlative wordsmith

  3. Thanks Tim another informative read. We weren’t their on Saturday but followed your Twitter commentary. We will definitely go up to Doni for the league game as we lived there for awhile. We will try and sit behind you again on the coach just in case you drop your wallet.

    1. Oh my goodness…was that you! Thank you so much…it was my phone on Saturday. I’m useless like that. Poor Sam despair.

    1. Many thanks, Pils! It’s been great fun and has given me a real interest in the three and a half years since retirement. However, the Christmas break is an appropriate time to finish and a chance to start the new year doing things rather differently. By then we’ll have won a couple of away games as well, hopefully!!!!

      1. Well Tim, whatever the “doing things differently” means I’m sure it will be a good read and that away win must come soon!

      2. It had better come before the Nottingham game, I’ll be really cheesed off if it doesn’t! I’d love a positive away post before I finish.

  4. Really good to read your report Tim. I do hope you continue them for a number of reasons. The club reports and interviews of the players are useful but you add so much more and paint a more complete picture. For example your report above contains a lot of comment and discussion on the match, how players performed, the referee and this really fills in the background if the reader was not at the game. There is nothing like this available elsewhere that I have found at any rate!

    Please, please keep doing your blog, if only match days reports and the odd mid week summary. What else am I going to read with my morning cuppa?

    1. Hi Kevin…many thanks for you encouragement and kind words. The blog will continue, albeit not as frequently, until the Nottingham game in December after which it will then cease in its current public format. It’s run it’s natural course and whilst I’m always thankful to anyone who takes the time to read it, there’s always the Messageboard to get a sense of what supporters think and feel. Cov’s own coverage is much improved, too, although it lacks the balance of the MB obviously. Still six more games to go so plenty of reading still left! Your support has been, and still is, really appreciated – Tim S

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