You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
Various – You Are My Sunshine
Quite old school is Jersey Rugby Club – still a few old men in blazers to be seen and a clubhouse that looks like it belongs more on a cricket ground than aside a rugby pitch. But the crapauds* are a welcoming bunch and it is a lovely ground to watch rugby, even if it lacks some shelter when the weather’s a little inclement, as it was yesterday.
There was a time a couple of seasons ago when we would have loved a scoreboard to match that of Jersey’s but times they are a-changing and it’s coming to ground like Jersey, lovely though they are, that reminds me just how lucky we are to be at Cov right now.
And it would have been crazy to imagine having a Gin Bar at the BPA 12 months ago, now we have a row of street food vendors that do a good trade on a match day. Happy days.
Across the road from the ground is the airport and every couple of minutes a commercial flight took off parallel to the pitch, although with the cloud as thick and as low as it was yesterday, they were barely visible just seconds after take-off.
It’s a ground that reminds one more of yesteryear than it tells of a brand new bright tomorrow. Small surprise that the club openly holds no ambitions of Premiership rugby.
The report of the game on the official Coventry website suggests Cov were ‘on the receiving end of a smash-and-grab raid by Jersey Reds’, a view that even the morning after still seems at little at odds with how I saw it.
It’s a great tag line if you’re a Cov supporter back at home – the old ‘we was robbed’ scenario but, to me, Jersey were more deserving of the win than perhaps that might suggest.
The home side were always in the lead, pretty much dominated the first half despite the closeness of the score and defensively did to us what we’d done to Ealing the week before.
Four tries to nil was perhaps a little flattering to the home side and had the luck gone our way, we could have won it at the death with Rory Jennings missing a fairly straightforward penalty to take the lead at 17-18 and two ‘tries’ that were apparently grounded but weren’t in the eyes of the referee and his officials.
That might sound as if we were the better side but that would be unfair on Jersey who, for the first 50 minutes, were in relative control and when they created opportunities in attack they looked far more like scoring from them than we did. In fact outside of the forwards, other than Rob Knox we looked rather toothless – no bite, no real threat and it was difficult to see how we might score for long, long periods of the game.
But even when underperforming by our own recent high standards, we made them work very hard for the win.
It’s been a good while since Cov opted to take the points rather than kick themselves into attacking positions close to the opposition line. But after 30 minutes it became clear that Cov were going to struggle to break down the opposition defence and from then on, other than when the Reds were down to 13, up stepped Jennings. And it almost worked, but for a slip on his approach to penalty no 6 – had that gone over I reckon Cov would have closed the game out at 17-18.
The disappointing thing is that we got so close without really performing as well as in any of the three previous Cup games. That’s the real positive to take back with us. Jersey had to work really hard for the win in the end against a Cov side that never reached the heights in attack as they did in the first half against Bedford (not even close), or defensively against Ealing last week. Last season we would have lost by 15 plus points.
And Cov did finish the stronger of the two sides with Jersey defending their half for the last 25 minutes. But too often when we had the ball in and around their 40 m line they were able to force us backwards and there were few line breaks at all in that period. Territorially dominant but seldom threatening their line.
Again, there was no faulting the effort or commitment from the players who gave it their all in conditions that made handling difficult and certainly weren’t conducive to the type of attacking play we’ve seen from Cov under the 2Ws. To be fair also, I think we were down to the bare bones in the backs with the two Bulumakaus out, no Purdy or Forsyth and three of those in the starting XV heavily strapped…
James Stokes, Will Owen and Max Trimble had a considerable amount of tape on which perhpas suggests they are yet a full fitness?
Alex Woolford went off injured (Sott Russell did well when he got his chance) and Adam Peters came on and then had to go off with an HIA – he seemed fine after the game but he will have to wait until a further check on Monday to get the all clear. Doubtless there were a few other knocks as well.
It was tough going for Cov yesterday, that’s for sure.
In the bar after the game the general feeling amongst Cov supporters was that we could have won the game, but as it was Jersey supporters would have had more of a right to feel aggrieved had they lost it than we did because we didn’t win it – if that makes sense?
Jersey lost three players to yellow cards and at one stage were down to 13 men in the final quarter; perhaps we should have used that to our advantage more than we did. At one point we turned down a kickable penalty to go for the corner, presumably because they were 2 men down – in retrospect should we have gone for the points?
It wasn’t the easiest of kicks but Jennings had been on fire up to that point. Hindsight and all that I guess…
The first of the yellow cards, for a high tackle on Max Trimble, could have arguably been a red – and that came from a Jersey supporter post-match!
I didn’t see the coaches after the game – the squad was heading off to the airport pretty quickly to catch an evening flight – but I imagine they won’t have been happy with the match officials yesterday.
Whilst the penalty count evened itself out over the two halves, I think someone said it was 14-11 (according to TRP) in our favour, both sides suffered some odd decisions, or at least odd to the uninitiated. Countless scrums were reset and lineouts retaken and as a result there was no flow to the game which resulted in words being said and additional 10m being awarded.
Discipline was poor on both sides and I imagine Rowland Winter will be having some harsh things to say on that front – there are some really experienced players in the squad these days who will need to take more of a lead. Ryan Burrows could often be seen talking to the referee at breaks in play, of which there were far, far too many.
It’s a game which in the end could have gone either way but it would have been harsh on Jersey who deserved the spoils. This from The Rugby Paper seems to reflect more how I saw it:
despite later pressure from Coventry through the penalty kicking of former Jersey back Rory Jennings and three sin-bins for the Reds
‘later pressure’ rather than a ‘smash-and-grab raid’ on the part of Jersey. But we were often chasing the game. In the end it was too little, too late. We deserved a point for sure, but more than that…?
Even as a fairly die-hard Cov supporter I think that’s pushing it somewhat.
There were 1135 at the game but it never really felt that many, with most supporters huddled under the shelter at the far end of the ground to escape the rain that was pretty persistent for the whole 80 minutes. It was a fairly muted Jersey crowd, other than a bit of banging on the advertising hoardings whenever Jersey got close…
Not the result then that we were hoping for. Before the game I’d felt sure we’d come away with the win. As it was, the result was even more disappointing because in some respects the performance didn’t live up to those of the last few games. Credit must go to Jersey for not allowing us to get into our stride, although the referee was also a factor in that too. To get as close as we did against the side that finished 4th in the Championship last season when we were well below par should give everyone involved with Cov hope for the coming season though.
But when you set the bar so high, days like yesterday are always going to be disappointing – Cov’s response next week at home to Bedford will be telling.
Lessons leaned I hope.
*(as they Channel Islanders like to call themselves. The word crapaud is French for ‘toad’ and is an affectionate term that’s come about because there are toads on Jersey but not on Guernsey apparently)
Over the last 4 and a bit years many of the great and the good have been included in the music sections accompanying posts in the blog over the years.
But all pale into significance in comparison to Collette…
Coming back to the hotel yesterday evening and feeling a bit down after what wasn’t after all the best of Cov performances, who should be in the bar tapping the old ivories but this lovely lady.
She was such a sweetie with a smile to brighten up the dullest of days.
Instead of heading back to the room for a shower and a coffee I sat in the bar, ordered a beer and a bite to eat and just relaxed (all my troubles packed up in my old kit bag and I smiled, smiled, smiled)
It was the perfect tonic.
Do watch the clip, she really is a cracker…