LOOSE head prop Andy Brown will join Coventry Rugby’s 100 club when the league leaders continue their charge towards the National League One title at Caldy tomorrow – subject to a pitch inspection this afternoon.
The 28-year-old England Counties cap (pictured) made three appearances in the 2012-13 season on loan from Doncaster Knights before joining Cov the following season, since when he has been an established and key member of the front row union.
Brown’s 100th league appearance comes after last weekend’s impressive 42-0 victory over second-placed Darlington Mowden Park – a result which, says director of rugby Rowland Winter, has set a high standard to match for their remaining seven games.
“Last week’s performance raised the standard above anything else this season and has set the bar high for this Saturday,” said Winter.
“The boys have got to now show that they are grounded enough and focused enough to take it a week at a time and acknowledge that they will have to work hard for every metre they make.
“Caldy have a fantastic scrum and players able to challenge us, and we will need to show the same work rate as we did last week and stay switched on.”
Cov, who came out on top 38-14 when the two sides met at Butts Park in November, are paying their first visit to Caldy who were promoted at the end of last season.
Back row Paddy Ryan makes his full debut for Cov in place of Latu Makaafi, who is likely to be out for two weeks with a shoulder problem, and there are two other changes to the match squad of 20 from last week with Rob Knox returning from injury on the wing for the rested Anthony Matoto and prop Jimmy Litchfield coming on to the bench for Luc Jeannot, who suffered a slight shoulder injury last week.
Hooker Scott Tolmie, second row George Oram and centre Sam Tuitupou all start as Cov continue their rotation policy with Phil Nilsen, Nile Dacres and Alex Grove going to the bench.
Kick-off is 3pm.
Coventry Development’s game at London Scottish has been cancelled by the home club.
COVENTRY: 15 James Stokes, 14 Rob Knox, 13 Heath Stevens, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Max Trimble, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Pete White, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Scott Tolmie, 3 Phil Boulton (captain), 4 George Oram, 5 Tom Jubb, 6 Paddy Ryan, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Brett Daynes.
Replacements: 16 Phil Nilsen, 17 Jimmy Litchfield, 18 Nile Dacres, 19 Dave Brazier, 20 Alex Grove.
Tom Little previews the rest of this weekend’s National League One programme
Bishop’s Stortford v Blackheath kick off 14.30
Caldy v Coventry Rugby
Cambridge V Hull Ionians
Darlington Mowden Park v Esher 14.00
Fylde v Old Albanian
Loughborough Students v Birmingham Moseley
Old Elthamians v Ampthill & District 14.00
Plymouth Albion v Rosslyn Park
BACK to a full league programme this week with leaders Coventry Rugby making their first-ever visit to Caldy, who have settled well in their first season in the division and are looking safe from relegation in ninth place.
Two successive losses for second-placed Darlington Mowden Park have left them effectively with only the runner-up slot to fight over, and with Plymouth Albion creeping up on them it is important that they gain a home victory over Esher. It could be a difficult game for Esher, who although in 11th place are still only ten points above the relegation zone. They are not at their best away from home, however, and a DMP victory should be the outcome.
Hoping for a DMP loss will be Plymouth Albion who are now up to third and have a home fixture against struggling Rosslyn Park. With Albion recently beating DMP and Moseley they are looking for another win as they are only six points behind DMP with a game in hand. Park have been very disappointing this season and although in 10th place are only ten points clear of the relegation spots. At home Albion will be firm favourites.
Old Elthamians, in sixth place, host fourth-placed Ampthill & District in a diifcult game to predict. OEs are another new side to NL1 who have settled well and at home should be capable of gaining a win which could see them overtake fifth-placed Blackheath, whilst Ampthill need the win to keep their six-point advantage over Blackheath.
An equally difficult one to predict is the game at Bishops Stortford who have Blackheath as their visitors. BS, also new to NL1, have recently found it more of a struggle but will be looking for a win to maintain their top half place. Blackheath can be inconsistent away from home, so the hosts stand a fair chance of gaining the win.
Birmingham Moseley, who will be smarting after letting go a lead against Plymouth Albion last week, travel the relatively short distant to Loughborough Students requiring a win to make sure of keeping their seventh place. However, Students have now been sucked into the final relegation spot and, although only two points behind Hull Ionians, will need this crucial home win. The Moseley pack should just edge it for the away side.
Important games involving the bottom half sides are coming thick and fast, none so than at Cambridge, in 12th place, who have 13th-placed Hull Ionians as their visitors. Recent losses have dropped Cambridge to just nne points above the relegation zone, whilst Ionians are only two points above it. If Cambridge can turn their possession into points by taking their chances, they should win, but Ionians never give up and a draw is a possibility.
Bottom side Fylde are at home to 15th-placed Old Albanian. Fylde are now 26 points from safety with little chance of escaping their fate, whilst Old Albanian are 12 points from safety. A win for the visitors could put pressure on the other relegation candidates, and OA will be slight favourites.