Doncaster Knights – God’s Great Banana Skin

God’s great banana skin
Don’t you laugh at nobody
You’ll let the bad luck in
God’s great banana skin
It’s the way that it gets you

God’s great banana skin
God’s great banana skin

Chris Rea -God’s Great Banana Skin

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I think the emotion of going away to a good side and picking up points adds to that. it is a banana-skin, without a doubt

So said Anthony Allen, Cov’s defence coach, earlier this week in an interview for CoventryLive.

It echoes a point that Head Coach Nick Walshe made when I spoke to him after the game against Ealing last Saturday. Having just played so well against one of the strongly fancied sides for promotion into the Premiership, he was quick to assert that Cov must make sure that they don’t go into the Doncaster game with anything other than a similar approach to that which they’d just shown against Ealing, otherwise they could find themselves slipping on a proverbial banana skin.

Two Cov coaches reinforcing the same point suggests that the team will have well-prepared well this week for what, on paper, looks a slightly less daunting contest than the titanic match-up last weekend.

On paper, anyway.

Still tough, but not Ealing tough.

Although 8th in the Championship at the moment, Doncaster have had a couple of decent results already, beating Bedford (L) and Jersey (Cup) at home, as well as doing the double over Hartpury (C+L). That said, they’ve also lost heavily away to Newcastle (C) (who we play next weekend) and failed to get on the scoreboard away to Jersey (L).

And we mustn’t forget either that Doncaster beat us 17-23 in January of this year, one of only four sides to win in the Championship at the BPA  – although they did have the dubious honour of being the first side we beat away from home last season in what by then was our 10th attempt.

This season, though, Cov have looked altogether stronger.

The side must surely be full of confidence with strong displays against Ampthill, Bedford and Ealing. Even in our one defeat in the Championship, in the opening game against Jersey, we still very nearly grabbed the draw in the final play of the game despite being well below our best.

If we are to become one of the stronger sides in this league and finish in the top 4, then Doncaster Knights are just the sort of side we need to be beating home and away. Slip up tomorrow and some of the gloss will inevitably come off that fantastic result last week.

Yes, Cov have shown they can be competitive with the best sides in the Championship  (discounting Newcastle who we have yet to play) but we also need to show far greater consistency than we did for much of last season.

With the coaches reinforcing the banana-skin nature of the Doncaster game, I can’t see Cov going into this game anything other than focussed and alert to the dangers of being too confident. Although there are a couple of changes from last weekend, the match day 23 has a familiar feel to it for the third week running and I do get the sense that the more this squad plays, the better it will become.

The ’emotional high’ felt by the players after the Ealing game will hopefully have been channelled into positives over the course of the week, rather than leading to a sense of over-confidence which would be all too easy a trap to fall into following on from last Saturday.

At home, in front of what will be another decent crowd, Cov should be strong enough to make life very difficult for Doncaster.  They’ll just be that little too strong for the visitors.

Interestingly, whilst playing at the BPA in front of a noisy and partisan home crowd is something the players clearly get a great deal from, for Allen it appears it doesn’t have quite the same impact:

I know the lads love playing here and running out here. For me it is another game, albeit at home and we need to get things right

I have to say, I rather hope that even Anthony Allen gets a buzz from being at the BPA on a Saturday afternoon. Ok, it might not generate quite the atmosphere as Welford Road does, but pound for pound the Cov supporters are just as  passionate about the Club as any in the country.

Allen’s arrival seems to have  galvanised what was a rather shaky defence last season into something much more solid. The two games against Ealing showed just how much Cov’s defence has improved and unless we have an off day, I’d like to think the teams currently camped in the bottom half of the table are going to have to work a lot harder to unlock our defences this season than they did 12 months ago.

The match day squad selected to play Doncaster again looks strong, especially on the bench where Tolmie, Jeannot (making a welcome return in the absence of Trinder, Boulton, Nayalo, Ram, White, Owen and Fenner would all be starters in many Championship sides. Cov have finished much the stronger in most of the fixtures so far this season, so with players like Ram and White to come on and force the tempo even more, life becomes even harder for opposition defences.

In a different CoventryLive interview this week, Jack Ram has stressed how much the competition within the squad has helped improve performances

Ram, who appeared three times at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, stressed the competition for places is driving standards on match-days, and on the training field.

“At the same time within this we’re helping one another to improve. We always give feedback to each other on any areas that we pick up during training or a match from the previous week

There has always been that competitive edge on the training pitch,” he added. “We’re constantly pressurising each other to be the best that we can be.

For a player who was the deserved Player of the Year last season, to find himself on the bench with the likes of Burrows, Peters and Wallace ahead of him must be frustrating, but he clearly enjoys being at Cov –  but as he says:

Week to week, I want to play my part

The Maisey/Jennings partnership at 10 and 12 seems to be working extremely well, with Jennings happy to let Maisey take over the place kicking duties – although with Will’s current strike rate (100% on Saturday) he hardly has a case to argue.

Jennings sometimes slips into the fly half position, as he did for Cov’s last try against Ealing when he fired across a kick with pin-point accuracy for David Halaifonua which levelled the scores (after Will’s nerveless touchline conversion.

The Knights have a fair few injury concerns and according to their website they have drafted in a couple of loanees from Sale, second row Matthew Postlethwaite (who starts) and Connor Doherty (who is on the bench). The side also includes Rob Farrar in the backrow who has come to Knights on a 2 week loan from Falcons.

Robin Hislop, who makes his 50th appearance for Knights tomorrow is very upbeat about the game, as you would expect him to be publicly at least:

There is definitely an excitement in the group, Saturday was really important that we got a win at home. Coventry are a very good side, they got a good result at Ealing and were probably unlucky not to win that so we know it is going to be a tough challenge, but one we are looking forward to.

Interesting there to see the perception that Cov were ‘probably unlucky’  not to have won – I’m sure they will have looked at the game closely and will have observed just how strongly we finished.

If we play to our strengths then we should be fine, anything less and it will be hard going.

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

As 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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Finally, here are the highlights from THAT game against Doncaster last season, the one back in April where were broke our duck of away wins. Since then, we’ve won more competitive away games away from the BPA than we have at home!

Cov must make sure they don’t go into the game tomorrow overly confident:

God’s great banana skin
Don’t you laugh at nobody
You’ll let the bad luck in
God’s great banana skin
It’s the way that it gets you

Author: Tim

2 thoughts on “Doncaster Knights – God’s Great Banana Skin

  1. We beat ourselves last season, absolutely gifted them the win at the Butts. It still gets my back up thinking about it. Had the game won and two telegraphed passes out wide allowed them to intercept and run tries in from distance.

    The sugar for that bitter medicine was to be at Doncaster to witnesd our first away win of the season.

    I ageee Tim, Doncaster are a banana skin and are a very capable team. But with the progress Coventry have made this is a game we are capable of winning and are in all honesty expected to win.

    Gwan Cov!

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