COVENTRY make four changes from the side that started at Blackheath for Saturday’s visit of National League One leaders Hartpury College to Butts Park Arena.
Three of them are in the pack where Andy Brown is back at loose head prop, Tom Jubb returns from suspension in the second row, and Sam Harry gets a first start at open side flanker. Captain Eoghan Grace moves to No.8 in a positional switch.
In the backs, Callum MacBurnie comes back in at centre for Rob Knox who moves to the bench along with Boris Stankovich and Darrell Dyer.
After racking up 115 points in impressive wins in their two home games so far, Cov aim to bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat at Blackheath against a side on maximum points and full of confidence following four wins.
“We’ve had a really good week in training, the boys have worked incredibly hard and we’ve had the positive response we were looking for,” said director of rugby, Rowland Winter. “Now it’s a case of taking that forward into the game.
“Although Hartpury are unbeaten, we are confident that we can test them in areas where they haven’t been tested yet. They’re coming to us, we have a good record at home so far, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s very much ourselves against ourselves this week, and if we concentrate on what we can bring to the game and get things right, we’ll cause them problems.”
Available but not selected this week are Rob Conquest, Ali Bone,Jimmy Litchfield, Jay Heath and Brendan Burke, along with player-coaches James Pritchard and Brendan Snyman who were both out of the country last weekend.
Tom Wheatcroft has been given the all-clear to resume playing and will be in the running to return at Esher next week, and Cliffie Hodgson is also now available and continues to build up his fitness.
Max Trimble, who has a shoulder injury, and Sam Grasso (knee) are both one week away from a return, while back row Olly Povoas faces another two to three weeks on the sidelines and Pete White has completed a return to training.
Cov have added Munster under-20.and development side second row Cameron Gray to the Development squad and he will play for Broadstreet tomorrow..
Coventry: 15 James Stokes, 14 Corey Hircock, 13 Tony Fenner,12 Callum MacBurnie, 11 Dan Rundle, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Rhodri Adamson, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Scott Tolmie, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Tom Jubb, 5 Tom Poole, 6 Brett Daynes, 7 Sam Harry, 8 Eoghan Grace. Replacements: 16 Matt Price, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Darrell Dyer, 19 Alex Smit, 20 Rob Knox.
Tom Little’s preview of the rest of the week five action in National League One
Ampthill & District v Birmingham Moseley
Blaydon v Macclesfield 14.30pm
Cambridge v Loughborough Students
Coventry Rugby v Hartpury College
Fylde v Esher
Hull Ionians v Blackheath
Plymouth Albion v Old Albanian
Rosslyn Park v Darlington Mowden Park
Week five sees the top five sides all facing potentially tricky away games. Will the last two remaining unbeaten sides continue their dash for promotion? The three bottom sides are all at home, but will this give them a better chance of their first wins?
The only unbeaten side apart from Coventry’s visitors Hartpury College, Birmingham Moseley travel to Ampthill & District who themselves are up to sixth spot with only one defeat. This will be a good test for the Moseley side against one of the famed packs in the division, and if they can get parity there, they will stand a chance of keeping their run going.
Surely the search for a first win of the season can’t go on much longer for Rosslyn Park, who face a home tie against Darlington Mowden Park. However, the north easterners have found some exciting form, both in their pack and especially among their talented backs. Another close contest in prospect if the DMP pack can gain parity with the giant home one.
Plymouth Albion entertain fourth placed Old Albanian in another game that looks close on paper. Promoted Old Albanian have settled in well, boosted by a number of Saracens players, whilst Albion have benefited by an influx of Exeter Chiefs players. At home, Albion should win this one but it could be very tight.
If Blackheath can play like they did against Coventry at Hull Ionians, then a large away win is in prospect. However, Ionians have made a steady start to the season with two wins and two narrow losses. At home, they have a chance to spring what some would see as a surprise in a game which could be another close one.
The game between Cambridge and Loughborough Students is also finely poised, as only three points and one place separate the sides. A game between two sides who like to run the ball which could tip either way. Home advantage and better discipline might give Cambridge the edge.
Fylde, languishing in 15th place and still without a win, have an inconsistent Esher side as their visitors. Fylde need to get a win soon to turn their season around, and it would take them above their visitors, but if they can secure enough possession, Esher have the ability to score tries. A high-scoring game is in prospect with the home side having a slight edge.
Winless bottom club Blaydon are at home to a Macclesfield side now back in 13th place and only four points ahead of their posts. After a bright start to their campaign, Macclesfield have now begun to lose momentum and away at Blaydon they will meet an uncompromising pack. This surely is the chance Blaydon need to finally get off the mark with a win.