I never felt more like singin’ the blues
‘Cause I never thought that I’d ever lose…
…Ya got me singin’ the blues
I never felt more like cryin’ all night
When every things wrong
And nothin’ is right without you
Ya got me singin’ the blues
Dave Edmunds – Singin’ The Blues
Rowland Winter or Mike Rayer?
One of them was always going to be left ‘singing the blues’ after Coventry’s encounter with Bedford on Saturday.
In the end it was Rayer who was left ‘cryin’ all night’ as Coventry deservedly won 26-17 in a game in which they probably should have had the bonus point by half time.
As it was, just the four points puts them second in their Pool, a point behind Ealing and with an 8 point cushion between them and third-placed Bedford.
Good to see Coventry making the most of their new facilities from the off.
A double-header on Saturday saw the ‘Nighthawks’ take on Ampthill 1881 (their 2s), followed a little later by the senior side against Bedford Blues in the Championship Cup.
Now here’s a thing.
Coventry, with genuine aspirations of Premiership Rugby and fast becoming a professional set up in every sense of the word, have yet to post a report of the Ampthill game on their website. Indeed, many Development Squad photos on the website are mostly blank, including those players who were with us last season.
Disappointing from Cov that.
And, and maybe I’m being a little naïve here, but just a printed team sheet for those supporters who made it to the ground before 12.30 to watch the youngsters might not have been too much to ask for?
As it was, I was struggling to recognise many of the Coventry side, as were those around me.
Cov will have earned a few bob from the drink/refreshments that the early birds bought before, during and after that opening game, so 500 team lists photocopied at 3p a sheet wouldn’t have broken the bank, surely. I appreciate it was probably all a bit last minute with the Army game being cancelled and this hastily arranged but even so…?
Or failing that, just a team list permanently on display on the electronic scoreboard during the game would have sufficed…? Nothing like seeing your name up in lights when you’re that age!
Or someone on the PA perhaps…?
Ampthill, on the other hand, have included a brief but informative report on their website which, despite Ampthill’s win, is very fair to Cov, although even that only includes the Ampthill team.
The match report explains the visitors were able to step in at the last minute because Cambridge Wanderers were unable to fulfil their Zoo League fixture with Ampthill. I’ve not heard why Coventry’s game against the Army was cancelled?
Cov lost 33-40 in an entertaining game that, in the end, either team could have won. Cov fielded a much younger looking side than Ampthill, although it did include Flinn and Lewis, both promoted into the senior squad at the end of last season.
I did recognise young Cameron Sharp at full back – he had a strong game and with ball in hand he is a real threat (he also impressed in the pre-season friendly against Jersey). The Cov 14 also looked very useful; he scored a couple of tries (I think) and given that I heard some one call out, ‘Well done, Louis’, or words to that effect, I presume it must be Louis Beer? He, too, looks like one to watch.
Max Titchener was in midfield, although he had a quiet game by his own high standards. He always appears more comfortable at 10 whenever I’ve seen him play.
Sam McNulty looks like he is continuing to develop in his new role as a hooker, having another promising game in that position.
Pick of the players for me though was second row forward, Freddie Betteridge. He was everywhere and put in a huge shift, including one run of 40 plus metres that left several players trailing in his wake. He could well be one of the next group of players to be promoted into the full squad on that sort of form.
There was plenty to be encouraged about. Cov did look a scratch side at times which they probably were given that most Saturdays the players are playing their rugby elsewhere, although obviously they do train together during the week as well as at their feeder clubs.
That said, there were some excellent individual performances and Coventry had enough chances to have won the game.
10 minutes to go and Coventry were turning on the style. Ampthill’s defence was finally holding firm until the Coventry number 5 who had an outstanding game, set up a grandstand finish. The game finished 33-40 and a very relieved Ampthill 1881 put in their best performance of the year. (From the Ampthill website)
I’d like to think that as supporters we’ll see more information pertaining to the Development Squad this season. It’s not been particularly forthcoming in previous seasons and it doesn’t look like that’s set to change any time soon this season.
Given several of these players could yet force their way into the first team in the years to come, it would be good to follow their progress from the very start of the Coventry careers, rather than midway through…
Maybe the task of writing the match reports could be given to one of the players, or even one of the interns..?
Once again, many thanks to Dave ‘The Train’ Duffy who sent me the following photos yesterday (Sunday). They show the pitch in use again, this time for American Football.
And that’s exactly as it should be.
Jon Sharp has always maintained that the new surface is a community asset and with both men and women’s football already taking full advantage of the new facilities at the BPA, it looks like it is going to get plenty of use.
Which is good news for the Cov coffers.
Hopefully, though, Cov aren’t relying on a percentage of the takings from those attending as the stand looks a little bare….
Good to see the Taco stand there though.
It might be that it was just left there from the day before as it doesn’t look as if it’s inundated with hungry American Football fans?
Maybe a burger bar would have been a better option.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post how good it was to see so many refreshment outlets at the BPA on Saturday. I did wonder whether there would be enough trade to make it worth their while, but a tweet today from Warwickshire Events suggests they were more than happy with the way it all turned out.
— Warwickshire Events Ltd (@WarksEvents) September 28, 2019
Whilst Coventry might not have played the type of champagne rugby we were all hoping for, the gin and prosecco served up by Warwickshire Events certainly seems to have gone down well. Hell, it might even persuade Sue to come to a couple more games this season!
Which leads me nicely on to the main event, the Championship Cup game against Bedford.
Initially, when the crowd was announced, I was a little disappointed. 2042 didn’t seem that many given the buzz that has been growing around the BPA these past few weeks.
A brand new pitch, recruitment over the close season which looks every bit as good on paper as that which saw Tuitupou, Nilsen and Makaafi arrive here a couple of seasons ago, further improvements in the ground facilities and a decent performance against Ampthill the week before…exciting times to be a Cov supporter.
However, in retrospect, 2042 was a good as perhaps we could have hoped for. The Cup has yet to capture the imagination of most Championship supporters (myself excluded, I really enjoyed it last season).
A tweet from Cov’s official Twitter account brought home just how encouraging the turnout actually was:
The best supporters are in #Coventry!
— Coventry Rugby (@CoventryRugby) September 29, 2019
Best supporters, best supported.
Yes, I’d hoped for more, guestimating 2500+ prior to the game, but I’m sure if we have a decent performance against Ealing Trailfinders on Friday (and I stress performance rather than result for that one), then come the first home Championship game, again against Bedford on the 19th October, I really do think we’ll exceed that 2500 mark.
As for the game itself, well at half time Cov had dominated much of the play. Several incursions into the Bedford half had resulted in try scoring opportunities, the backs had scythed through the opposition midfield on a number occasions and the set piece was beginning to look dominant. The only close thing was the scoreline – Coventry just 9-3 up despite all their territorial dominance.
I send an occasional (!) tweet during the course of the game and at the interval made the point that we should have been virtually home and hosed given our dominance. My son, who is away at the moment, sent back a message suggesting I might have over-egged things, quoting a half time Tweet from the official Bedford feed:
HT and it is an extremely close affair at Butt Park Arena with the score standing at 9-3. Big second half to come #COYB
— Bedford Blues (@BedfordBluesRFC) September 28, 2019
It fairness a 6 point lead did indeed make it close but in all other aspects it had been a pretty one-sided affair up to that point. Cov just weren’t clinical enough but all the signs were there to suggest Cov are looking to play a faster, more expansive game than we saw for much of last season. It will take time for the players to adapt to the new surface but you could see the difference in approach already.
Credit to Bedford though.
For a 20 minute period after half time they looked like they would take the game away from us and when they found a bit of space, they had support players at the shoulder of the ball carriers and their offloads caused us plenty of problems. In contrast, especially in that first half, we had runners making inroads into the Bedford half but too often they tended to take ball to ground rather than look to pass and keep the momentum going.
That said, there’s plenty of pace in this Cov squad, with Trimble looking like he’s getting close to full fitness again, and the likes of Bulumakau, Knox, the impressive Owen and Stevens all making strong runs in that first half.
Almost inevitably though, Bedford were going to come back at us. and back they came. At 16-17 the visitors looked to have control of the game. The Cov of old might have struggled to regain the lead, but with players like Wallace and the impressive Ryan Burrows showing just why Rowland Winter wanted them here for the start of this campaign, Coventry began to reassert themselves and in fairness we thoroughly deserved the win by the end of the 80 minutes.
Burrows is clearly the leader we’ve been lacking. He’s a strong ball carrier and is always chatting to the ref and his players. Wallace, looks really useful and soon began to impose himself, especially in the second half. His work rate is impressive and he won a couple of important turnovers to give Cov a breathing space when Bedford had set up camp in our 22.
Defensively, I thought we looked well-organised for the most part and even when Bedford had possession in their own 40, several times they were forced to kick away the ball after having gone through several phases and found no way through Coventry’s defensive line.
And Cov were always quick to counter when the kick was either too long or the chasers too slow off the mark.
Coventry’s set piece worked well (nb young Toby Trinder looks a useful acquisition). The scrum seemed to get more dominant as the game went on. The loss of Gerard Ellis, out for the rest of the season if the rumour is correct, could yet be a serious blow given the form he showed on his arrival at the back end of last season. But as one door shuts, so another opens, so maybe we’ll see the return of Luc Jeannot from Chinnor. Luc is definitely a young man with a real future in the game provided he can reman injury free.
The combination of Kessell and Jennings seemed to work well, with Jennings looking to be another astute signing. Plenty has been made of his kicking and ability to get the line moving, but I was really impressed with his defensive play. He’s not the biggest of players but he really tackles hard and is quick to get up and back into position ready for the next tackle.
With White and Maisey waiting on the bench, both attacking players in their own right, Cov have real strength at 9 and 10, especially when below them are Flinn and Lewis. This is a squad that is beginning to look very strong indeed.
Having retaken the lead, in truth Cov never looked like relinquishing it and perhaps that is the most pleasing aspect for me. There was no panic, no downing of heads when Bedford had their purple patch for 20 minutes after half time. The bench did its job, Burrows led from the front, as did the experienced players brought into the squad to ensure games like this weren’t thrown away through poor decision-making.
In the end the better side prevailed.
As has been said elsewhere, plenty to work on, but early indications are really promising. The Ealing game on Friday is going to be a really tough one and likely to be a reminder of just how far we have to go to get to where we need to be if we want to be challenging the best sides in this league. But tough tests early on in the season won’t do this group of players any harm and the likes of Burrows, Wallace, Dawidiuk, Nutley, Denman and co have been there before and will hopefully provide the metaphorical cash for Coventry to buy the equally metaphorical t-shirt.
Games like this one against Bedford don’t do anything to lessen the excitement; the exact opposite in fact.
Ealing on Friday?
Bring it on.
Rockpile. Dave Edmunds (of ‘I Hear You Knockin‘ fame), Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and a drummer whose name I can’t recall.
Saw them a couple of times in the early 80s. Very much a part of the Costello, Squeeze, Brinsley Schwartz era that I so enjoyed back then.
Okay, Guy Mitchell made ‘Singin the Blues’ his own, but this version is pretty damn good too.
And remember ‘Teacher Teacher‘, ‘Crawling From The Wreckage‘ and ‘Girl’s Talk‘????