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Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview

By ChrisC
January 26 2015

Window on the World. Derek was in charge of the computer department, his massive whirring charge ensconced in its own air conditioned room while Derek and his nubile assistants laboured over the terminals and big grey boxes that importantly flashed coloured lights and flickering LED displays to show something was going on.

I would guess that the total computing power of this metallic leviathan, which was treated as a spoilt, capricious child has probably now been surpassed by that available from my present day Smartphone.

By the middle of the eighties the monster had seen off the highly skilled comptometer operators who had, with their flying fingers, been administrative royalty.

Personal Computers appeared and with PC World not even a twinkle in Stanley Kalms’ eye, equipment had to be purchased from specialist firms who spoke in tongues as they built, delivered and connected this latest “must have” for thrusting 1980s businesses.  Derek saw them as gimmicks that would never replace his metal child with its spinning reels.  If only he’d known!

Soon though Amstrad and Sinclair machines made the hardware more accessible although the Amstrads had a tendency to catch fire and the Sinclairs broke down with alarming regularity.

My assistant sat with furrowed brow as she tried to master the dos codes she had to type to produce the information and we wondered what was the point of it all when we could just ask Derek although any ad hoc request would lead to much sucking of teeth, rolling of eyes and an interminable delay until the long roll of green striped paper made its appearance.

Then it all changed. Windows 3.1 arrived with new more reliable machines from IBM., NEC and Commodore. I’ve laboured over many versions of the ubiquitous Windows; 95., 98., 2000, XP., the hated Vista, 7 and now 8.1 which required a whole new approach from my old brain.  To me 8.1 is rather like dealing with my nephews who speak an often unintelligible language peppered with: So. Whatever. Wicked. Like. Huh?

As I type this I do so on my beloved desktop with the simple Windows 7 but lurking elsewhere in the house are other machines harbouring 8.1. The low slung jeans, back to front baseball cap wearing, jargon grunting, stubborn, know it all enfant terrible operating system of the day.

“So! It’s really, like simple to use – yeah? Wicked graphics”. Said the gel haired child in PC World as he burbled on, pausing only to answer my questions by whipping his fingers around the screen with the speed of light and regarding my perplexed face with a combination of sympathy and avarice.

He failed to mention that updates beamed from Microsoft often lead to settings having to be re-created and files being mysteriously repositioned in obscure places which require search parties that would have challenged Henry Stanley’s.

I am getting used to living with the computer world’s version of Harry Enfield’s Kevin but I don’t yet like him and am grateful when I return to the embrace of my middle aged Windows 7.

 I feel similarly about the LV= Cup. I’m learning to live with it but have no affection for it and wait for the Premiership with all its manifold faults to return and even better the Six Nations to end.

I understand how the cross pool system of fixtures works but like Windows 8.1 don’t see the need for it.  It’s here though – at least for the time being.  If though it disappeared, as did Vista, I’d again shed no tears.

I don’t follow soccer with any great attention but I do envy those that do when FA Cup time comes around.

A real knock out cup! 

Cambridge holding the mighty Manchester United to a draw. The minnow’s players, supporters and directors now relishing the prospect of a trip to Old Trafford.

Chelsea humbled at Stamford Bridge by Bradford and Manchester City’s expensive squad failing to prevent humiliation by Middlesborough at the Etihad Stadium, while Swansea stumbled out at the hand of Blackburn Rovers and Southampton were ejected by Crystal Palace.

Even troubled Leicester City played their part by dismissing Spurs.

Oh how I long for a real rugby knock out cup with its twists and turns where the lowliest of clubs can dream their dreams, if only fleetingly.  Abandon the all too clever LV= Cup.  Shun the silly end of season knock out cup.  Instead please give me a real inclusive knock out cup and its field of dreams. 

Meanwhile I have to tolerate (barely) the ersatz LV= Cup in which this weekend Tigers play host to local rivals Northampton. Well at least there’s a frisson there!

In the past Tigers have seemed somewhat dismissive of this competition, although of course they lifted the trophy at Sixways a couple of seasons back in a victory over the self same Northampton, a match sullied by the rebarbative behaviour of Calum Clark.

The LV= Cup this season represents the most likely avenue for Tigers to add to their comprehensively filled trophy cabinet. With the league beyond them and Saturday’s loss at Ravenhill sealing their fate in the European Cup, in which Northampton, and in spite of a humiliating defeat at the hands of Racing Metro at Franklins Gardens, retain a slim hope of glory as they travel to meet Clermont.

Mallinder has mixed and matched his starting line ups in the two preceding rounds of the LV=, the away win at Scarlets seeing a match day squad containing senior players; Wilson, Alex Waller, Ma’afu, Dickson, the now injured Foden and the aforementioned Clark.

I don’t see it being any different this weekend and if anything I expect to see an even stronger squad make the journey to Welford Road to try and couple progression in the competition with a victory at the home of their fiercest rivals.

Richard Cockerill for his part must, in my view, seize this chance of redemption from a season that has gone so badly awry by pitching as strong a team as possible with an eye to prudence but only that.  The forlorn quest in the league must take care of itself in due course.  For now the LV= Cup is everything.

I expect that Mallinder and his sidekick Dorian West will select as strong a pack as prudent.

They will not of course have Hartley available but that’s a mixed blessing as at least their team will have a better chance of playing the match with fifteen men than might otherwise be anticipated.

They will have both Haywood and McMillan on call and Haywood has had plenty of quality game time in Hartley’s frequent absences and I think he could be preferred to ex Gloucester and Pertemps Bees hooker Ross McMillan for this contest.

Tigers’ Tom Youngs will be on England duty and likely playing second fiddle to the aforementioned Hartley who we are told by Graham Rowntree has “plenty of credit in the (England) Bank” to balance his quite awful disciplinary record. 

It would be an easy shot to say that in Rowntree you have the apogee of the adage that by keeping one’s mouth shut you avoid confirming the suspicion that you are a fool. However that would be unfair as he is most probably merely parroting the “talking points” provided to him and the rest of the England players and coaches by the RFU spin machine.  I believe it’s called “staying on message” and frankly were I being paid a third of a million pounds every year as is Lancaster I’d pretty much say whatever I was told.

After all for the great unwashed perception is the new reality.

Cockerill will have both Ghiraldini and the emerging talent of Thacker available as the Italian international squad are not subject to the same extended period of purdah as are those involved with England.

I would start Ghiraldini and extract full value from the departing Italian while preserving Thacker for the trip to Cardiff.

Dan Cole will surely not be included in England training (aka destruction) until he is not only recovered from his foot injury but proven as being match fit.  But Lancaster’s England rarely follows logic or good practice so who knows.

If Cole’s fit then I’d start him and Ayerza with the rested Balmain and newly returned Mulipola in reserve and any combination of the four should prove a match for the visitors front row who will surely be selected with an eye on the looming return of the league where Bath are a mere one point behind them in second place. So Ethan Waller seems likely to be on the loose-head for the visitors and in my world facing Cole or Mulipola.

With ex Leeds and Rotherham tight-head Denman or ex Saracen Tom Mercey seeming the most likely to start for Northampton on the tighthead although I wouldn’t entirely discount Toulon bound  ex Brumbie and Western Force Wallaby Ma’afu being involved.

I think then that with a full strength starting line up Tigers would have a decisive edge in the front row battle.

Parling is once again injured and were he not he’d be with England but his hors de combat could see Kitchener dragged into the England morass and even if he escaped that he’d likely be with the Saxons so deChaves, who was excellent at Ravenhill, somewhat bizarrely could be the senior Tigers’ lock available, assuming of course Thorn isn’t yet fit.

Tigers do have new recruits Peterson and Whetton available and I’d expect to see the enormous USA Eagle Peterson preferred to young Joe Maksymiw for this key fixture.

I think that Christian Day will be deployed as the rock around which the Northampton pack coalesces as he brings his considerable experience and brain power to the fray. It looks as if twenty-two year old Alex Woolford could continue his LV= adventure while Manoa or makeshift lock Dickinson are on the bench.

Tom Croft went well at Ravenhill but with Gibson off to Franklins Gardens at the end of the season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him entrusted with the Tigers’ blindside where he could bring his considerable talents to the lineout for his current club and maybe tip the balance in its favour.

Salvi needs and deserves a rest and while Thacker is apparently being groomed for the open-side my inclination would be to start Italian international Barbieri there before he goes off with Italy. Accomplished in the position and a prodigious carrier, he’d be my choice while hopefully Pearce, after his sojourn with Doncaster, is fit to resume duties at #8 and with last time’s star of the show; Milne injured Pearce would be my preference to bring his considerable carrying skills to the party, adding to just three appearances for his new club.

Veteran Phil Dowson, who started his first class career way back in October 2001 when he appeared as a replacement in Newcastle’s 33-13 defeat by Toulouse in that season’s Heineken Cup before moving  to Northampton for the 2009/10 season for whom he’s since made over one hundred and twenty appearances, looks certain to feature. As Clark and Wood are with England and anyway the latter is injured, Dowson looks the likely occupant of the blind-side berth  for the visitors, bringing all that experience in support of young Ben Nutley who I think will get his thirteenth start in an Anglo-Welsh competition.

 I’ve seen Nutley play a few times and he’s a really good sort so it’s remarkable, to me at least, that given the paucity of opportunities he’s had in his five seasons at Northampton he hasn’t moved on as would a player such as Jamie Gibson for example.

Jonathan Fisher has started both the previous LV= rounds for his new club who he joined from London Irish having previously had dalliances with London Welsh and Bedford.  I can’t see Manoa being risked with a league campaign still to complete but if he is then Tigers watch out!

If Manoa doesn’t feature I can see Tigers bossing the line out but the breakdown is a different matter as Northampton of late have had the Indian Sign here but as ever it’ll depend on the referee’s interpretation of the laws.

Ben Youngs will likely be understudying Danny Care for Stuart Lancaster but meanwhile Mallinder has Fotuali and Dickson both available.  Fly half Joel Hodgson, signed from Newcastle via Rotherham, has started at scrum half in both the previous rounds but I think that we may see Samoan international, the ex Crusaders’ and Ospreys’, Fotuali’i start this time.

This looks an opportunity for the steadfast Sam Harrison to make his second LV= Cup start as David Mele seems out of favour, although I can only actually remember him having one bad game it doesn’t seem that it takes much to get in Cockerill’s bad books especially when there’s a local lad in the wings waiting his chance.

Harrison, with his fast and accurate passing, has of late been pushing Ben Youngs hard for a start and I hope that he takes the opportunity to show what he’s made of against a scrum half of Fotuali’i’s class who has a full box of tricks to call upon. If my thoughts are not too scrambled then Harrison may have the better platform from which to combat the experienced Fotuali’i.

Burns had a mixed time at Ravenhill and I don’t see him starting this Saturday but equally I’d be surprised if Williams doesn’t get the nod ahead of Bryant if Tigers are going flat out for a win as they surely must.

There could be lot of probing going on and it’s unlikely to be a match for extravagant play so Willams’ control could be required rather than Burns’ élan.

With Myler involved with England and anyway key to Northampton’s league campaign my guess is that young Will Hooley, who last week had a run out with Moseley, may not continue his starting presence in the competition with the more experienced and accurate Hodgson getting the start.

If I’m right then the Tigers’ half backs may just have the edge.

There were some Tigers’ supporters who saw the Fijian duo of Bai and Goneva forming the centre partnership for Tigers at Ravenhill being the panacea for Tigers’ try scoring drought, seeing the absence of Tony Allen as beneficial in the surreal world they must occupy.  They were wrong – so, so, so wrong.  Tigers continued their Battle of The Somme attacking strategy throwing themselves onto the barbed wire of the Ulster bulwarks and opening the backs to withering enfilade. Bai tried hard but Tigers made no progress - again.

There was no shape and little purpose to Tigers’ attack and even less to its defence where the centre afforded Ulster attack defilade as it was continually out of position and synch. It was horrible to watch leading to a plethora of missed tackles and eventually to another totally undeserved Yellow Card for Goneva, falling victim again to the “South Seas Tariff” and a further try for Ulster as the disorganised and now depleted Tigers’ defence was torn to shreds.

The Fearsome Fijians won’t be on duty this weekend I guess but maybe if he’s fit Allen will be however my bet is that we’ll get to see Jack Roberts, called back from loan to his old club Rotherham. He’s almost identical in size to Allen so if he plays I hope Murphy’s strategy is not another re-enactment of the Somme with lone runners being picked off at will.

I’d quite like to see the experience of Matt Smith in the outside centre slot for Tigers.  He’s not a very fashionable option these days but he’s another rock upon which the backs can rely, is disciplined, wants to play centre and would be a solid defensive bastion.

When he first joined Northampton from Wasps for the 2012/13 season Dom Waldouck got a good number of starts but after injury has struggled to re-establish himself. Remarkably he’s twenty-seven now but still to hit the heights of his days at Adams Park. At his best he’s an astonishingly incisive runner and Tigers would be well advised to devote the defensive skills of Smith in attempting to contain him for if he gets anything approaching a free rein he’ll cause chaos behind the Tigers’ defence and I rather expect him to be aided and abetted by the always excellent Elliott and young Howard Packman who’s been limited to just four senior starts, all in the LV= Cup, which have yielded three tries.

With Foden injured I anticipate seeing the experienced, seige gun booted Kiwi James Wilson kept in cold storage and for the twenty year old Tom Collins, (“Gin, Lemon juice, sugar and nice and cold please!!!”) at full back. He started in both of Northampton’s LV= fixtures this term and scored a try in each of them. It will be seen then that the visitors could have a potent back three so Tigers’ defence must improve and improve a lot.

Similarly Benjamin and Thompstone have started in both of Tigers’ LV= matches but have now been elevated to starting positions in the Premiership.  They’ve had little grist to their attacking mill but for all that have scored tries even in less than propitious circumstances.

With Scully reported as fit and Morris similarly available I’d like to see them both in this Saturday’s starting line up alongside Tommy Bell at full back.  They’d be a strong attacking unit and capable in defence with all three good under the high ball, adept with the boot and needing game time.

Tigers just must win this one, if they don’t their season is all but over.

 I think they’ll do it and close the window on a horrible start to the season.

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Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview (IP Logged)
26/01/2015 19:12
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:02:03:20:31:50 by Tiggs.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Grim Reaper (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 10:47
Christian Day is in the England squad so won't feature. He was never going to, either, as he was originally in the Saxons squad.

Fisher has been injured for circa 3 months.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Sarge (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 12:41
"I wouldn’t entirely discount Toulon bound ex Brumbie and Western Force Wallaby Ma’afu being involved."

Ma'afu was motionless on the floor for five minutes or so in the second half last Saturday and had to be helped off the pitch. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's rested this week under the concussion protocols.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Duncan Keene (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 12:57
Thanks for the time and effort in producing the preview Chris! I'm sure all our visitors meant to add that to their corrections...

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
S4llyC (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 13:41
Duncan Keene
Thanks for the time and effort in producing the preview Chris! I'm sure all our visitors meant to add that to their corrections...


And thanks from me too, Chris. And here's hoping we can field a side with both brains and brawn enough to do the job on Saturday.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Stopsy (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 13:55
A good one to win (as with every other game from here on in!). Many thanks Chris.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 15:24
As ever your kind comments are much appreciated.

These things do take some effort to produce every single week (well when I'm in the UK anyway)so acknowledgement of that is gratefully received.

As for visitors. <shrugs> I guess that I don't know as much about their team as they do but I do my best to research although quite how I'd have known about Fisher I can't work out. Day? Yup should have remembered he was in the Saxons.

Heigh ho! <shrugs>

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Grim Reaper (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 16:24
I wasn't point scoring, Chris, sorry if you took it that way.

Fisher had a great start at FG, then got injured playing in the LV at Scarlets, and hasn't been seen since. Had a brief chat with him after the EM derby in December, he's had metal pins put in his foot and said he was still a few months away from a return.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Stopsy (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 16:36
Hope he mends fully

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 17:06
Indeed so and thanks for that GR.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Biggysaint (IP Logged)
27/01/2015 19:03
Ross McMillan now plies his trade with Brizzle.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 10:50
Oh really! Thanks.

The website(s) I use for my research don't yet show that move.

One of the issues I have is that when it comes to the more fringe players that get used in the LV= it's quite tricky to know what's happening as some go out on loan and so can show up as having moved clubs as their first appearance triggers their presence.

I could try and drill down through newspapers etc but I really have neither the time nor inclination.

Maybe I shouldn't bother when it comes to the LV= as it's pretty pointless producing inaccurate stuff.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Tiggs (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 12:36
Or you could say "producing mostly accurate stuff" ?
And very good it is too, even with the very rare inaccuracy !!

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 13:44
Well yes that's true I suppose.

You're not one of those "glass half full" chappies that I read so much about are you Steve? hot smiley

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Tigergeezer (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 13:49
Grand read as ever - I always like the extended metaphor. My only complaint is that it's a little light on fart gags. Now there's a challenge for the next AP preview...


The lowest depth to which people can sink before God is defined by the word 'journalist'.

Soren Kierkegaard

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 14:05
Most kind geezer.

Some folk do comment "what's all the stuff about the computer (or theme of the week) got to do with it"

And I am tempted to point out that it's allegoric or as you say an extended metaphor but it somehow seems patronising to do so.

Anyway glad you (and I'm sure most other readers)"get it".


Fart gags. Like the real thing need to be used sparingly but I'll see what I can do!(Sm101)

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Rich W (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 14:10
Thanks Chris - and of course you are right - it's difficult.

I'm not sure I agree with you on Mele - I think he's had numerous brain farts this season despite having had chances well after the point at which I'd have canned him.


Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
ChrisC (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 14:28
I guess he's a more sparky/risk taking #9 than Sam. A bit like Burns vs Williams perhaps.

But not to even get even a bench spot since his start against Wasps seems harsh.

But you and I have never really agreed on Mele iirc?

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Rich W (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 14:42
Perhaps not.

I don'y dislike the bloke - he's a decent player with a good attitude it seems but I don't think him an improvement on Harrison - though as you say maybe more risk taking.


Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
jamesroberts (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 16:34
I see that Saints have signed Tom Ryder just in time for Saturday !

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Yorkie (IP Logged)
28/01/2015 17:37
Thanks Chris.

Re: Tigers v Saints LV Cup Preview
Tiggs (IP Logged)
03/02/2015 20:32
Thanks Chris.

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