COVENTRY take a largely settled squad to Hull Ionians on Saturday with 17 of last week’s match day 20 making the trip north.
Tony Fenner (hip) and Jack Willis (shoulder) both miss out after picking up knocks in the win over Plymouth Albion, while prop and scrum coach Boris Stankovich has recovered from a knee injury and returns on the bench for Jimmy Litchfield.
Will Maisey moves out from centre to replace Fenner at fly-half, Rob Knox coming off the bench to start in midfield, and Sam Harry (pictured) comes back at open side flanker with skipper Eoghan Grace moving to blind side in place of Willis. Co-captain Tom Wheatcroft replaces Knox on the bench.
Cov go into the game after recording their first back-to-back wins of the season and with a determination to end their away drought.
“We can’t wait to get up to Hull,” said director of rugby Rowland Winter. “We haven’t done ourselves justice so far when we have played away from home, but we are heading into the weekend with a strong and settled squad who are starting to find some form.
“We have the best home and away supporters in the league and we want to get up there and put in a performance that we and our fantastic travelling support are proud of.”
On the injury front, both Cliffie Hodgson (shoulder) and Callum MacBurnie (ankle) will be available for selection next weekend against Blaydon. Olly Povoas and Sam Grasso continue their rehab and are on track to return to playing in November.
Wingers Dan Rundle and Max Trimble remain on loan at Nuneaton, who are at home to Bedford Athletic in National League 3 Midlands, while scrum-half Alex Smit is now on loan at Broadstreet.
COVENTRY: 15 James Stokes, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Rob Knox, 12 Corey Hircock, 11 Owain James, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Pete White, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Matt Price, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Rob Conquest, 5 Brendon Snyman, 6 Eoghan Grace (captain), 7 Sam Harry, 8 Darrell Dyer.
Replacements: 16 Scott Tolmie, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Freddie Tuilagi, 19 Rhodri Adamson, 20 Tom Wheatcroft. Reserves: 21 Jimmy Litchfield, 22 Tom Jubb, 23 James Pritchard.
Tom Little’s review of the rest of the weekend National League One programme
Blaydon v Fylde kick off 14.30
Cambridge v Hartpury College
Darlington Mowden Park v Birmingham Moseley
Hull Ionians v Coventry Rugby
Old Albanian v Macclesfield
Plymouth Albion v Loughborough Students
Rosslyn Park v Blackheath
WEEK 9 sees the top three clubs all away from home with arguably only third-placed Blackheath facing a difficult game, at Rosslyn Park, whilst at the other end winless Blaydon can’t be too confident even at home as they face high-scoring Fylde.
Leaders Hartpury College are away at Cambridge, who have recently been shipping a large number of points with the third-worst defensive record in the league. College ae the league’s highest scorers and should be able to maintain their 100% record, in what should be another high-scoring match.
Second-placed Birmingham Moseley travel to the north-east to face a Darlington Mowden Park side who have recently fallen off the pace with two straight losses while Moseley seem to be a scoring and winning machine at the present.. Home advantage might slightly even up the odds, but Moseley should have enough finishing power to see off DMP and keep them within sight of Hartpury.
The London derby between 14th-placed Rosslyn Park and third-placed Blackheath could be a result to upset the odds as Park are showing signs of life and progress after a poor start to the season. Last week the Park pack took control in the second half against Macclesfield, and although Blackheath are a more rounded side, it could be closer than first thought. A close and exciting game is on the cards which could go either way.
There is another intriguing match in prospect as Plymouth Albion have Loughborough Students as their visitors. The sides are only separated by one place and two points and have found some recent excellent form to move them into the top six. Both are capable of playing a fast off-loading style with Albion having a slight edge in their effective and experienced forwards .If last week is anything to go by, this is a game to entertain the crowd
Ampthill & District, who have recently slipped off the pace and are now back in sixth place, have an improved Esher as their guests Esher are now in ninth place and only four points behind their hosts, and if they can show the same application they displayed in running 72 points past Blaydon last week they should win as they have the edge in their backs. Ampthill cannot be written off as they have a formidable pack, but sometimes lack a cutting edge
Blaydon, after a series of heavy away losses, are back at home, but against Fylde they will have to be at their best to get something out of the game. Fylde themselves don’t always travel well but they have enough finishing prowess to clinch this one, leaving the home side in serious trouble at the bottom of the league.
The remaining game sees Macclesfield, back in 15th place away, to Old Albanian who have started to struggle and are now in 11th. Although Macclesfield can be competitive for part of most games, they have been fading badly in the second period. Old Albanian at home are expected to win this one, leaving the visitors in some trouble close to the bottom.