SCRUM-HALF Pete While makes his first start in a Coventry jersey in Saturday’s home game against Plymouth Albion.
White, who came off the bench in last week’s big win over Fylde to complete his return from injury, changes places with Rhodri Adamson in the only change to Cov’s back division.
In the pack, skipper Eoghan Grace – who was voted supporters’ player of the year when he was at Plymouth two seasons ago – returns in the back row at the expense of Sam Harry after a week away.
Darrell Dyer steps up off the bench to replace Ali Bone at No.8, Rob Conquest comes into the second row for Tom Poole, and Matt Price starts at hooker with Scott Tolmie taking his turn in the replacements where there is a first call for Leicester loanee Freddie Tuilagi.
“Plymouth will be a big challenge for us,” said director of rugby, Rowland Winter. “They have been performing well and have a good squad.
“But we are looking forward to the test and will be aiming for another home win.
“Consistency in selection is key for us and we will look to keep around 15 players each week from the previous match-day squad, which allows us to make a few rotations to address whichever tactical approach we are targeting or rest players who have picked up a knock. We have plenty of options available and the competition for each shirt is now strong again.
“I have been impressed with Freddie Tuilagi at training, he has a great skill set and I am looking forward to him making an impact off the bench on Saturday.”
Added Winter: “Our injury list is now pretty small, and will improve again next week.
“Brett Daynes, Tom Wheatcroft and Cliffie Hodgson will all be available for selection next week, they are competing their rehab and have worked hard to get themselves back fit.
“Olly Povoas and Sam Grasso should be available in early November.”
Kick-off at Butts Park Arena is 3pm, and live post-match entertainment will be provided by Jimmy with an open microphone for anyone who wants to join in.
COVENTRY:15 James Stokes, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Corey Hircock, 12 Will Maisey, 11 Owain James,10 Tony Fenner, 9 Pete White, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Matt Price, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Rob Conquest, 5 Brendon Snyman, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Eoghan Grace, 8 Darrell Dyer.
Replacements: 16 Scott Tolmie, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Freddie Tuilagi, 19 Rhodri Adamson, 20 Rob Knox. Reserves: 21 Jimmy Litchfield, 22 Tom Poole, 23 James Pritchard.
Tom Little previews the rest of this weekend’s National League One programme
Birmingham Moseley v Old Albanian
Blackheath v Cambridge
Coventry Rugby v Plymouth Albion
Esher v Blaydon
Fylde v Hull Ionians
Hartpury College v Ampthill & District kick off 14.30
Loughborough Students v Darlington Mowden Park 14.00
Macclesfield v Rosslyn Park
Week eight sees all top three sides at home, whilst at the other end of the table bottom side Blaydon face a difficult away trip while Macclesfield and Rosslyn Park meet In Cheshire.
Leaders Hartpury College host fifth placed Ampthill & District, whose home loss to Blackheath last week may have dented their confidence. Not the best preparation to meet Hartpury, however Ampthill do have an impressive pack, especially in the scrum, and will look for at least parity in this aspect. The home side should have enough quality in the backs, though, to ensure another bonus point victory.
Second-placed Birmingham Moseley are also at home, against Old Albanian. Still boasting only one loss, Moseley have been impressive and have settled well into this league. At home Moseley have the experience both in the pack and backs to gain another bonus point victory over an Old Albanian side which has recently seen some loss of form, thus keeping pressure on Hartpury.
Equal on points with Moseley, Blackheath in third place have Cambridge as their visitors. Blackheath are showing impressive form and will be up there if Hartpury slip up. Cambridge have settled in well to NL1 and are equal on points with Coventry in ninth place. The home side will be firm favourites to win this one as they have the better all-round experience, but Cambridge may get a losing bonus point.
Sixth plays seventh when Darlington Mowden Park visit Loughborough Students. Park suffered a surprise heavy loss at Plymouth last week and they face another difficult away trip as the Students who, after an unsteady start to the season, are now finding some winning form and the ability to be competitive in all phases of the game. A close one which could go either way, with the winner in line to take over fifth spot.
Another close contest is in prospect as Fylde entertain Hull Ionians. After a competitive first half against Coventry last week, Fylde were blown away in the second while Ionians were surprising many with a home win over Esher. At times Ionians have shown they can match most sides but have thrown away too many games after leading. At Fylde they will be punished for any such lapses, as Fylde, even if not the force of past seasons, still have the ability to score tries from anywhere. A good tussle should just go the way of the home side.
It is looking ominous for winless Blaydon who face another difficult away game at Esher. Already eight point adrift at the bottom of the league, Blaydon will come across an Esher side capable of winning well one week but inconsistent the next, so one cannot write off Blaydon’s chances. However, at home Esher should be a different proposition and should ease to a large victory.
The final game pits together two of the bottom three sides, Macclesfield and Rosslyn Park with the winner possibly getting out of the relegation places. Both sides are picking up the odd losing bonus point, but they both need to start to get in the winning habit to resurrect their season. Although Park have boosted their side with some Harlequins loan players, Macclesfield at home can be a handful so this game could go either way.