Battling Richmond So Close
March 2 2019
Richmond, battling for their very lives in the Championship,
came so close to upsetting Cov at a blustery but dry Butts Park Arena this afternoon in front of a big crowd.
Needing the points to hopefully build a small buffer over Hartpury - away at high-flying Ealing Trailfinders today - the visitors got off to the worst possible start conceding a third minute try to Andy Bulumakau's superb score in the corner. Dan Lewis, growing in confidence, and looking increasingly like a star of the future, topped it up with an excellent conversion to give Cov the start they wanted.
Lewis again stepped up to slot a penalty on 13 minutes, and Cov seemed to be set fair.
However, the ensuing error-strewn display from the Blue & Whites, not helped by a nasty-looking knee injury to Pete White after 10 or so minutes, almost contrived to hand an unlikely win to the Londoners. Rowland Winter must be tearing his hair out, given that his after-match interviews this season have so often called on his charges to cut out the mistakes - and this afternoon's riposte will no doubt cover that old ground yet again.
Cov did so much to unseat themselves with error after error, forced and otherwise. Yes, the strong and blustery wind didn't help, but the pitch could not be blamed as it looked to be holding up extremely well after the recent wet spell.
Time after time Mr Ridley pulled the home side up, with Richmond often surprisingly quick at getting into Cov's faces, making for an exceedingly frustrating 80 minutes for spectators, coaches, and players alike.
When the team finally puts their collective jitters (particularly in contact, early or otherwise) to bed, we'll see a huge improvement in results, there's no doubt.
One bright spot followed closely on from the White injury, with Lewis slotting a penalty, but that was to be it for the first half, and Richmond, who had played much of the game so far in their own half, suddenly swung into action, making their first excursion into the home 22 to score a well-worked try on the half-time whistle. The straightforward conversion brought the HT score to 13-7, and Cov looked shaken.
The second period continued in much the same vein, but with Cov now facing the breeze, Richmond were now winning the territorial battle. They didn't have it all their own way though, with Tom Emery plucking a rather high pass out of the air near the halfway line, and scooting away from two covering defenders before finally being brought to ground in the clubhouse corner, and cleverly feeding Heath Stevens who gratefully dotted down. An absolutely top-drawer Lewis touchline conversion, into the wind, brought the score to 20-7 on 50 minutes, and Cov fans were purring.
That, though, was the last time Cov troubled the scoreboard. Much of the rest of the half was played-out between the 10 metre lines, with Cov fairly ineffectually attempting to drive through the away defence, with a poor kicking game compounding their troubles.
Three excellent wind-assisted long range penalties from Richmond full-back Rob Kirby dragged them right back into the game though, and fears were being expressed that Cov's party was about to be pooped.
Cov continued to huff and puff, and on at least two occasions near the end should have rumbled over to make things safe, but that 'inaccuracy' word intervened again, and, with Richmond again being handed the ball for a penalty on their own line, the relief from Cov fans was immense as they dabbed it into touch in acceptance of a narrow defeat and a bonus point to keep them one point off bottom spot.
A narrow, hard-won win then, and almost certain safety in a mid-table position. Four points would have been the minimum that Cov fans would have expected prior to kick-off, but it just goes to prove once again what a tough league this really is.
Pictures: Nick Meredith
Tries - Andy Bulumakau, Heath Stevens
Conversions - Dan Lewis (2)
Penalties - Dan Lewis (2)
Coventry Unofficial Man of the Match: Andy Bulumakau. Fielded everything thrown at him, and returned it with interest time and again.
Coventry Official Man of the Match: Alex Woolford
Coventry Official Match Report: HERE
Coventry Official - Highlights Reel: HERE
Coventry Official - Rowland's Take: HERE
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:03:05:10:53:39 by AdminBTCov.
And the backs seemed to lack a cutting edge, and should have converted the break from Rob Knox in the first half. And just to balance it out, on the third quarter it looked easier for the forwards to rumble over the line and secure the game but they didn't. There I've had a moan at backs and forwards. But keep working guys, it will come good. Hopefully in the two remaining home games. It would be great if we could turn Ealing over!
Having said all that Richmond did not look like a bottom of the table side, and I sincerely hope they stay up as a stand alone side (am I right here) rather than Gloucester 2nds.
I noticed that Richmond often had 2-3 or even four players at each breakdown whereas we had the ball carrier plus one other... is it any wonder we got turned over or the ball held up? They could obviously see that we weren't going to get the ball wide so their defence was always in control... until we got it out to the wingers who did well with limited supply.
I haven't seen anything from anyone playing 10 this season that looks creative, other than Fenner and the odd pass from Jake Sharp. Not sure if this rumoured Jennings chap is the answer... let's hope so.
I agree with another post somewhere that we don't seem to get much from Heath either... with the ball rarely going past him along the backs.
It was a shame to see Pete leave the field early, I think we'll miss his speed of distribution.
I don't have much confidence in the defence on the right hand side; between Knox and A Bulumakau... they often go to tackle the same player, unless this is a tactic but it leaves us open on the wing then.
Faleafa (?) continues to do well, Oram was in my view, less effective or at least noticeable. Nutley continues his decent form. Tom Emery looked dangerous with ball in hand. JFL must have made 5 tackles and a decent scrum in his first 5 minutes of being on.
All views expressed in this post, are my own
I've made no bones of the fact I thought Sharp should have been given more time, but his face didn't fit and I don't know what went on behind closed doors.
I'm sure Rowland will be looking to strengthen this area and I hope Will goes on to regain his form of the last couple of seasons.
In reply to you Rob C, I prefer Dan Lewis kicking all day long rather than Tom Kessell and his aimless box kicking, oh and let's not forget the age it takes him to do this in the first place
I can't imagine for one minute that Tom employs the box kick off his own bat. It's clearly a pre-planned tactic but, admittedly, one that isn't working as well this season as it did last.
Box kicks, however, are only as good as the players chasing it and I think that's where the tactic is failing on many occasions. Last season we seemed to always have a chaser ready to smash the opposition catcher, this season we seldom have a player close enough to where the ball lands.
I'm hopeful that as the weather improves we'll keep the ball in hand more and play to our strengths.
All views expressed in this post, are my own
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:03:05:10:47:48 by PaulRossborough.