Coventry finds North Harbour in buoyant mood

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Sunday, September 3, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

More familiar with the Waikato and Chiefs environment, Coventry moved into the North Harbour position for two years after previous coach Steve Jackson moved into an Investec Super Rugby assistant coaching role with the Blues in the wake of North Harbour's winning of the Mitre 10 Championship.
Having won their first two games against Championship sides Otago and Southland, North Harbour met Auckland, their first Premiership opponent of the season on Sunday and rewrote the record books in contests between the two in their 57-10 win at QBE Stadium in Albany.

Coventry was delighted with the way the side took their chance.

"I was rapt with the boys effort. We sat down at halftime and spoke about a good half of rugby. What I really liked was the way they kicked on in the second half. They were probably even better in the second half," he said.

Coventry said there had been a buoyancy about the side from their efforts in winning the Mitre 10 Championship last year when he joined up with them this year.

"They've still got a point to prove I think to the public and themselves and that's pretty evident in the way they're playing.

"If they're buoyant and happy and enjoying their rugby you get results like this. We've had three now and we've still got a long way to go but it's delightful they got a nice win like this at home in front of their crowd, especially on club day," he said.

Coventry, who took over the role at the end of last summer, said he talked with Chris Vui, who is now playing for Bristol in England, and Chris Smylie, who was one of the more senior players in the team, about the culture of the side and they had not tried to change too much from what was put in place during Jackson's time with the side.

There was a feeling among former North Harbour representatives that they had been overlooked and treated as a little brother for a long time. There was a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude and that had been a motivator for them over the last couple of years.

"Maybe that's something we need to have in our rugby all the time to get us going, it seems to be a motivating factor for them," he said.

There hadn't been a lot of attention paid, in the lead-up to Sunday, to perceived weaknesses in the Auckland team which has struggled to make an impact in the competition.

Coventry said the attention had been focused on their own game. They wanted to scrum well and have their set-piece performing well. They had three good five-eighths available to them and they were accumulating points in the right parts of the field.

"For most of the game today we had large amounts of territory and possession which is always good on the back of some pretty good set-piece," he said.

That came down to having four good props to build a team around and that was important because they had a short turnaround before playing Counties Manukau and he admitted Auckland had just had a tough week with three games.

Making use of their squad would be important in managing it through the campaign, he said.