STRIKE pair James Stokes (pictured) and Max Trimble return to Coventry’s squad for tomorrow’s game against Hull Ionians at Butts Park Arena.
Stokes was ruled out of last week’s trip to Plymouth Albion by a neck injury and returns on the bench with Cliffie Hodgson retaining the full-back berth, while Trimble takes over on the wing from Corey Hircock after missing the last two games.
One other change to the 20-man squad sees Tom Jubb come into the second row in place of Josh Peters, while Will Maisey, Phil Boulton – who will captain the side – and Darrel Dyer all start in an exchange of places with Tony Fenner, Jimmy Litchfield and Freddie Tuilagi, who go on to the bench.
Cov secured their first away win of the season at Ionians in October, 40-21, but director of rugby Rowland Winter expects another tough afternoon against a side second from bottom in the National League One table and battling to avoid relegation.
“We need to get back to winning ways and after two away games we are looking forward to being back at home,” said Winter.
“It will be tough against a Hull side battling for everything they can get to stay in the division – they are a bit up and down, but so are we, and a lot of their defeats have been by narrow margins.
“They have got some talented players and we anticipate a hard game.
“Our aim is to build on last week’s performance at Plymouth where we really stuck at it and showed our battling qualities.
“We need to add some detail in our set piece and improve our accuracy, and if we do that I’ll be happy that we’ve stepped up which is what we’re looking for each week.”
Rob Knox is on loan at Broadstreet tomorrow, at home to Derby, and Rhodri Adamson is playing for Nuneaton at Bedford Athletic.
“Rhodri is getting game time and helping Nuneaton with their promotion campaign,” said Winter.
“Rob is playing for Broadstreet for one game only to get a full 80 minutes under his belt and get match sharp now he is back fully fit.”
Kick-off is 3pm, and Gdansk will provide live post-match entertainment in the clubhouse.
COVENTRY: 15 Cliffie Hodgson, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Heath Stevens, 12 Tom Wheatcroft, 11 Max Trimble, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Pete White, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Scott Tolmie, 3 Phil Boulton (captain), 4 Tom Jubb, 5 Tom Poole, 6 Brett Daynes, 7 Olly Povoas, 8 Darrel Dyer.
Replacements: 16 Matt Price, 17 Jimmy Litchfield, 18 Freddie Tuilagi, 19 Tony Fenner, 20 James Stokes.
Tom Little looks at the rest of the weekend’s National League One programme.
Birmingham Moseley v Darlington Mowden Park
Blackheath v Rosslyn Park
Coventry Rugby v Hull Ionians
Esher v Ampthill & District
Fylde v Blaydon
Hartpury College v Cambridge kick off 14.30
Loughborough Students v Plymouth Albion 14.00
Macclesfield v Old Albanian
Interest in week 23 lies mainly in the struggle to avoid the second relegation spot, with both Blaydon and Hull Ionians facing difficult away matches whilst bottom side Macclesfield need to win at home to give them at least an outside chance of survival.
Leaders Hartpury College, now 28 points up on their closest rivals, are at home to 11th-placed Cambridge. Despite Cambridge earning a creditable home draw with Blackheath last week, they cannot expect anything from this clash apart from perhaps a losing try bonus point.
Plymouth Albion, now up to second place, travel to Loughborough Students who are struggling with injuries and close to relinquishing their top half place. The impressive Albion pack should be too strong, even away from home, to be denied another bonus point win.
If Albion do slip up, they could be overtaken by Ampthill & District who, third in the table, travel to 13th-placed Esher. At home Esher are a different proposition than away, but they are still too close to the relegation places to be comfortable. A close and nervous encounter is in prospect with the visitors slight favourites for the win.
Birmingham Moseley are now only five points away from second place, but they have an improving Darlington Mowden Park side as their visitors. The hosts should be too powerful to slip up, but Park have been showing more resilience and it could be close. Moseley will be favourites for the win, which could even propel them into second spot if other results go their way.
Fifth and sixth-placed Rosslyn Park and Blackheath battle it out in south London. With Park only one point and one place above Blackheath, a close derby game is in prospect with home advantage perhaps edging it slightly to Blackheath. However, the Park pack has been showing its prowess recently and could cause an upset away from home.
Surely it is far too late for Macclesfield to escape relegation as they are now 14 points from safety. They entertain Old Albanian who have the ability to score plenty of tries but can also ship them, so it could be close. The visitors should seal it and virtually confirm the home side’s relegation.
An intriguing game is in prospect as 12th-placed Fylde pay host to 14th-placed Blaydon. The visitors moved out of the bottom two last week and need to keep the momentum going, but their away form is poor whilst Fylde’s home record is much better. It is going to come down to who wants its more, and Blaydon may just have the edge to put more daylight between them and Hull Ionians.