Nighthawks…Bedford tomorrow…Perfect Baps

Wait a minute honey
Stop pretending you’re a bunny
Well I might’ve guessed
You been to see a specialist

But obviously you don’t know
Where to draw the line, well

Don’t try to tell me it’s a what you been eating
Since when have you been forty-four around

Faces – Silicon Gown

Coventry go into tomorrow’s game against Bedford with one win already under their belts this week, the Nighthawks beating a strong Cambridge University side 21-26 on Wednesday evening.

In the end it looks like Cambridge fielded just one of their two second row internationals, with James Horwill not listed in the Cov report, although South African Flip van der Merwe was.

And it was an important win, providing further proof that Cov are building a conveyor belt of talent that is already beginning to provide the club with players who have the ability to play at Championship level. As yet they might not have the fitness, physicality and experience required for a prolonged run in Tier Two, but that will come in time.

I would imagine that the likes of Povey, Lewis, Flinn in the backs and Langley, Jeannot, Hutchinson and Russell could all come in and do a job on a match day in the Championship (as some already have), whilst the likes of Betteridge, Titchener, Creighton and Martin are all getting regular first team experience in National One.

There are probably others too, of whom I’m not aware, so apologies to them but that only adds to the strength in depth that Coventry have at the moment and the pool of players is likely to increase yet further once the U18s start to come through and players from outside of Cov begin to realise the potential on offer at the BPA.

Remember the Nighthawks games of old? Under previous DoRs, you’d turn up to the game midweek often with little idea of the side sometimes it wouldn’t even have been announced) only to find that there were several changes. Included would be a number of players brought in from local junior sides in order to fulfil the fixture whom we would never see again.

Not so now.

The club has a squad big enough to enable these games to take place without the need to bring in players for one-off appearances.

How times have changed. There’s  a vertical pathway into the first team squad for any youngster good enough, and hopefully many of those in the U18s aspiring to wear the blue ‘n white jersey in years to come will prove to be locally born and bred.

The vision that we all bought into three years ago is fast becoming a reality. If we can produce teams in the future capable of competing with the very best the Championship has to offer with a spine of local talent running through them, well rugby-wise that is good enough for me. The Premiership would be fantastic, but to have a Cov team in the Championship filled will local talent would be a great achievement for the club and, indeed, the city.

Yes, other clubs will come a-hunting but if Cov package it properly, hopefully we can keep hold of our up and coming youngsters.

That must be a priority for a club like Cov.

And it must be more economical in the long run if we can be a promotion-chasing side without having to bring in seasoned Premiership players on commensurately larger salaries.

Anyway, well done everyone involved in Wednesday’s win. Can’t wait to see the Nighthawks back at Cov in the near future.

(Just as a footnote, it’s great to see Cov emailing supporters reports and video clips of the games this season, which is where the clip below was sourced. I’d certainly recommend you getting on their mailing list if you haven’t already done so. It’s another example of Cov reaching out to it’s supporters in a way it hasn’t managed to do previously):

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Other than Moseley, I have been trying to work out which club side I’ve seen most in my 55+ years of watching Cov. There are a few contenders, but Bedford must certainly be in the reckoning.

And there’ll be another three encounters with The Blues before the season’s out, starting with the  first of the Championship fixtures tomorrow.

If it’s down to the form book, then really at home Cov have to be favourites.

2019 table

After a good win against Cambridge in the opening pre-season friendly (but still shipping 24 points at home – Cov kept a clean sheet away), Bedford’s results thereafter have been mixed.

Their win against Yorkshire Carnegie wasn’t the most convincing against a side that hasn’t yet had much more than a month together, whilst the week before they were well beaten by newly promoted Ampthill in the Championship Cup.

Cov have admittedly lost their last two games, but a close game against strongly fancied Ealing in the Cup followed by another very close result against Jersey away would indicate that at home perhaps Cov will be too strong for a slow-starting Bedford.

Paddy Power, my turn-to bookies in these situations, see it as being a lot closer than perhaps I do:

2019 table

If I were a Bedford fan, I’d be prepared to have a punt but at 4/6-on for the Cov,  win it’s just not worth it.

The Cov team news would seem to reinforce the observations I made in Jersey when it looked like we were struggling with injuries in the backs and were unable to break down a resolute and very well-organised Jersey defence.

Heavily strapped against Jersey, Will Owen isn’t included in tomorrow’s match day squad (and he was in good form prior to last weekend) and Kessell and Jennings are replaced by White and Maisey, with Jennings moving into midfield to partner Heath Stevens.

With Andy B, Junior B, Purdy, Forsyth, Halaifonua and Owen all missing at the moment, 11-15 could look very different in the weeks and months to come. Still, those playing tomorrow are all experienced at this level now and if White can provide the tempo and Maisey the right pass, Knox, Trimble and Stokes will cause any team in our division problems.

Jennings is a very canny player, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the move to 12…all a bit Farrell/Ford-esque. Cov must be down to the bare bones in the backs, but this is an exciting line-up and on the quick surface at home, it’s one that could be a real handful.

Plenty of changes too in the forwards, but my guess is that most of those are rotational with players like Trinder, Woolford, Nayalo and Luke Wallace being benched following the intensity of the last couple of games. Glad to see Peters and Woolford, both of whom suffered knocks against Jersey, are fit to play tomorrow. Strong set of finishers there, mind.

Dacres remains for his third consecutive game. He was such a presence in the side two years ago and the coaches clearly want him to have every opportunity to build up his match fitness. It’s good to see him back!

And then, of course, there’s the return of Tony Fenner. Anyone who has had to battle against the number of injuries he’s picked up since arriving at Cov deserves admiration, particularly when he has shown himself to be such a talent when fit.

Cov have opted for a 6-2 split again (although opted may be the wrong word given the paucity of players available in the backline). With that in mind, TF is almost certainly going to get a run out at some point tomorrow and I, for one, will be loudly applauding him on to the pitch. As with Nile Dacres, it’s rather like recruiting a new player.

There’s the small matter of the England v Australia fixture taking place in the morning, but even so I would hope that the attendance will be well north of 2500 tomorrow.

2019 table

The weather looks set to be fair, if not a little on the cool side, with only a 30% chance of rain and virtually no wind which makes it ideal conditions for watching Cov.

That and the prospect of watching the first Championship game on the new synthetic surface, against an old foe, is surely an occasion not to be missed?

Games against Bedford are often close, entertaining encounters and hopefully this one will be no exception, although I’m happy for it to be just entertaining rather than close, provided it goes our way of course.

The club has worked hard to put to bed the problems that led to the long queues before the Ealing game so it should be a more straight forward entry into the ground this week, although if folk decide to leave it to the last 15 minutes to arrive there might well be a wait, but that’s the risk they take.

Me, I’ll be there with Sam (and about time, too 🙂 ), a good 90 plus minutes early, putting in the laps, sampling the delights of some of the street food that is now available in the fans’ zone and generally soaking up the atmosphere. One of the highlights for me is always watching the crowd arrive, the buzz around the ground grow and the tension build as the players go through the Captain’s Run to be then cheered off the pitch on their way to the changing rooms for their final preparations before kick off.

In the past I’ve tended to bring food into the ground as the in-house catering has been limited in terms of its choice, but this week ‘TacoBoz, Perfect Baps, coffee/hot drinks and prosecco’ offer rather more than the standard fare, so I’ll definitely give it a go. There was also a baked potato stall at the last home game, so if that’s there I might go for a jacket with cheese, although Sam is more a Taccos man at a guess.

If you’re not at the game tomorrow, I think both Coventry and Bedford will provide updates via their Twitter accounts and it might well be that BBC local radio are also covering the game as well.

2019 table.pngAs always, I’ll be tweeting a live ‘commentary’.

Whilst my tweets might lack the technical accuracy of the above, they’ll certainly convey the emotion of the game – although admittedly I do get a little carried away at times, averaging 140 tweets a game last season!

Predictive texting and fat fingers do mean that very occasionally (!) I come out with some pretty surreal comments, but I know a number of people tune in, for which I am always very appreciative.

I’m on @CowshedTim should you fancy giving it a go.

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According to the Cov website, Perfect Baps are coming to Cov.

At the risk of alienating myself from anyone reading this post who is offended by anything lacking in political correctness, I felt obliged to choose a song that celebrates their arrival.

Spoilt for choice, in the end I opted for Silicon Gown…

Well, you got more front than Haig Museum, oh
Oh home grown silicone
You really got the best of me
You really got the best of me, woo who

Perfect Baps, indeed.

 

Author: Tim

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