FORWARDS coach Louis Deacon believes that Coventry’s early issues at the set scrum in Saturday’s win at Rosslyn Park were down to the artificial 3G surface as well as the home side’s tactics.
Cov conceded four scrum penalties in a difficult first quarter, which saw them go 13-7 down, before they steadied the ship and eventually took charge up front themselves.
“Playing on a pitch where you do get good purchase with your feet I think we probably weren’t patient enough,” said Deacon.
“We did speak about not moving our feet because of the good grip, and I think when they tried to shear us off and go round on an angle, we got a little bit giddy and chased them whereas if we’d stuck to our plan and not moved our feet, we’d have been okay.
“The artificial surface does make a difference to the way you scrummage because really you just have to plant your feet and stay still, while on a mud pitch you do slip a bit and have to chase your feet.
“I think Rosslyn Park came with a bit of a plan and executed it quite well, and initially we probably struggled to deal with it. They didn’t scrummage particularly straight and it took us a while to get used to that, but it was a good learning experience for us because we’ve been quite dominant at scrum time and it made us think.”
Deacon wasn’t surprised at the way Park started the game and was happy with Cov’s second-half response.
“In this league any team is going to be tough to break down on their own ground, but after that first 20 minutes they didn’t score any more points which was good,” he said.
“We’ve got that ability to be able to switch it one when we really need to and I think it was a quality second half from us.
“I’d like to see us finding solutions on the field a little bit sooner rather than taking until half-time to find that extra gear, but after those first 20 minutes we were well in the mix.”
Deacon was delighted with the performance of prop Jack Higgins who, a recent addition to the squad, came on for his debut after 21 minutes.
“Jack was outstanding, particularly given that he’s only been with us for a couple of weeks. He’s played for the Development team and this week we thought we’d give him his opportunity.
“He’s played in New Zealand probably at a higher level than National One, probably Championship level or maybe even higher, so he certainly knows what he’s doing. He’s a local lad as well and I’m pleased for him – he’s working with my old Leicester team-mate Darren Garforth, which is nice.”
And, as a second row forward himself, what about Cov’s line-out?
“I wasn’t here last year, but I know the line-out struggled a bit. I still feel we’ve got another level to find, but we’re averaging 85 per cent each week and that’s a good mark to stick around although obviously I’m striving for more than that.
“We generally have one or two mishaps a game and I do get frustrated at times, but it’s more individual errors nine times out of ten than our systems and where we are currently is a lot further on to where we’ve been in the past.”