MOTIVATION will not be a problem for either side when first in the table meets second as Coventry put their 25-game winning home run on the line against Darlington Mowden Park at Butts Park Arena tomorrow.
It’s a game where both sides have something to prove – champions Cov looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Ampthill, which was only their second loss of the season, and Park out for revenge after losing their 100 per cent home record in a crushing 42-0 defeat when the two sides met in the north east in February.
“It’s a big game all round,” said Cov’s director of rugby, Rowland Winter.
“Our best performance of the season was probably that one up there, they’ll be smarting from that and they’ll want to show that 42-0 was just a bad day at the office, while, equally, we need to get back to where we were and show that Ampthill was no more than one bad day at the office for us.
“They will also be wanting to show that they can be promotion candidates next season, so it will be a game between two teams with lots of motivation.
”When we’ve asked for a positive response before, the boys have given it, and we are looking forward to the chance to put things right in front of our own supporters.”
The wave of sickness which swept through the squad last Saturday and affected eight players in total before, during and after the Ampthill game has cleared, allowing Cov to field an unchanged pack.
One change in the backs sees the return of winger Max Trimble, unavailable last week, while prop Luc Jeannot and scrum-half Dave Brazier are both back from injury on a bench which also includes Olly Povoas – Jimmy Litchfield, Ben Palmer and Kailus Hutchinson missing out.
Kick-off is 3pm, and Brett Daynes, Andy Brown, Tom Poole and Matt Price, who are all leaving the club at the end of the season and have all made over 100 appearances for Cov, will walk out ahead of the team to say their farewells – give them the big cheer they deserve and raise the roof in appreciation of all their service and commitment to Cov.
and live post-match entertainment will be provided by The Rooters.
Coventry Development’s game against Richmond Vikings has been called off.
15 James Stokes (53 caps to date)
14 Rob Knox (98)
13 Heath Stevens (106)
12 Alex Grove (16)
11 Max Trimble (32)
10 Will Maisey (83)
9 Pete White (42)
1 Andy Brown (104)
2 Scott Tolmie (56)
3 Phil Boulton (captain, 50)
4 Tom Jubb (32)
5 George Oram (23)
6 Nile Dacres (26)
7 Jack Preece (25)
8 Brett Daynes (152)
16 Will Priestley (4)
17 Luc Jeannot (11)
18 Olly Povoas (21)
19 Dave Brazier (18)
20 Tony Fenner (39)
Tom Little previews the rest of this weekend’s National League One programme
Birmingham Moseley v Rosslyn Park
Bishop’s Stortford v Cambridge
Blackheath v Old Elthamians
Coventry Rugby v Darlington Mowden Park
Esher v Caldy
Fylde v Loughborough Students
Hull Ionians v Ampthill & District
Old Albanian v Plymouth Albion
THE penultimate round of fixtures has some mouth-watering games in prospect, including champions Coventry Rugby at home to second-placed Darlington Mowden Park for whom a win would confirm them as runners-up. The other end of the table could see Old Albanian relegated, although the fight to avoid the third relegation place could drag on well past next week’s full round.
Coventry’s conquerors last week, Ampthill & District travel to 13th-placed Hull Ionians, looking to consolidate their third place. However, their away form has not been so impressive as at home and with Ionians fighting for their NL1 survival ths game will likely go down to small margins of error. Hull Ionians at home can be a force and, although the visitors will be favourites, could still cause an upset.
It’s the last chance saloon for Old Albanian, in 15th place, who are at home to Plymouth Albion. The home side have been in fine recent form, but another defeat will see them relegated. Albion came from behind to beat Moseley last week and should be too strong for OA.
The other main contender for relegation, Loughborough Students are away to bottom side Fylde who have only pride to play. Students side have been picking up points and are now only three from safety, still with a game in hand. Should be a clear win for Students.
Two sides safe in fifth and sixth places, Blackheath and Old Elthamians meet at the former’s Eltham ground in a local derby which could go either way although both had surprising defeats last week. Home advantage might just sway it, although a win by the visitors could see them equal on points with Blackheath.
Both Birmingham Moseley and Rosslyn Park will be looking to erase last week’s last-minute defeats, although it has to be said that Park are more desperate for points as they are in 12th place and only five points above the relegation places. Two well-matched sides who both have not lived up to their pre-season aspirations suggests a narrow home win, but Park will be fighting for their NL1 existence so might sneak this one.
Another side that could still be relegated is Cambridge, who travel to their neighbours Bishop’s Stortford. Although BS are safe after a good start to the season, they have started losing too many games which is also the case for Cambridge who are now back in 11th place and, more importantly, only six points above the relegation cut-off. Almost a must-win for the visitors, but BS at home will be slight favourites for the win.
Two more sides that could still need a win to ensure survival are Esher and visitors Caldy. The Wirral side have three more points than the hosts and only needs two more to be sure of a second season at this level, whilst Esher need five in the unlikely event of the other teams involved winning all their remaining games. A draw would probably suit both sides!