SECOND row Tom Jubb comes in for his first appearance of the season as Coventry look to extend their winning start in National League One to eleven games at Old Elthamians tomorrow.
The 24-year-old lock has shaken off hamstring and hip issues and, on loan to Leicester Lions last week for some game time, takes over from Cameron Gray.
There are two further changes in personnel to the 20-strong squad from last week’s line-up against Caldy with development academy prop Luc Jeannot coming on to the bench in place of Phil Boulton, who picked up a slight hamstring injury in the 38-14 win which saw Cov stretch their winning league run – going back into last season – to a club record 18 games – and Jack Preece returning at open side for Olly Povoas.
Fraser Dingwall partners Tony Fenner at centre with Rob Knox moving back to the wing and Max Trimble going on to the bench, while Cov continue their rotation policy in the forwards, hooker Phil Nilsen and back row Brett Daynes stepping up from the bench in a change of roles with Scott Tolmie and Latu Makaafi.
This is the first meeting between the two clubs with Old Elthamians, promoted at the end of last season, playing at their highest level yet and currently lying seventh in the table with five wins from ten games and Cov old boy Dom Lespierre currently the division’s leading try scorer on eleven.
Their open ground, with no grandstand or seating, presents a different challenge to Cov – ten points clear of the pack at the top of the table – but it is one for which Winter says they are well prepared.
“I’ve been there a couple of times with Cambridge and so have one or two of the lads, so it’s not a complete unknown,” said Winter. “There are plenty of familiar names in their team and we’ve watched videos of their games, we’ve been keeping track of them all year, so we feel we’ve got to grips with what they offer and feel there are a couple of areas we can have a go at.
“They’ve started well in this division and will get better as the season goes on, and we know we will have to be fully focused.
“It’s the start of a block of games that will define where we end up at Christmas, we’ve got to play six of the top seven or eight sides in the league which will be tough, but we’ve been building for it for the last ten weeks and it’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Coventry’s development side are also in away action against Old Elthamians 2nd in a Zoo Sports Shed league fixture with a first outing for former Old Coventrians-Coventry colt Jack Higgins at tight head prop.
Higgins went to New Zealand some eight years ago on the recommendation of former Coventry coach Murray Henderson, going on to play for New Zealand Universities and North Harbour B, and returned home last month.
Kick-off for both games is 2pm.
On the injury front, loose head prop Andy Brown is back in training after hand surgery and should be available for selection for the Plymouth Albion game on November 25 along with second row George Oram, while centre Heath Stevens underwent a successful operation on his broken leg earlier in the week.
Development winger Kwaku Asiedu has a knee injury which will keep him out for two weeks, and front rower Freddie Clark is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after dislocating his knee cap.
Coventry would like to announce that CEO Phil Crossman has taken control of the commercial operations of the club going forward. The club would like to thank Phil Maynard for his significant contributions to the club over nine years of service and we wish him well for the future.
COVENTRY: 15 James Stokes, 14 Anthony Matoto, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Tony Fenner, 11 Rob Knox, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Tom Kessell, 1 Nathanael Titchard-jones, 2 Phil Nilsen, 3 Jimmy Litchfield, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Tom Jubb, 6 Brett Daynes, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Luke Narraway (captain).
Replacements: 16 Scott Tolmie, 17 Luc Jeannot, 18 Latu Makaafi, 19 Ben Palmer, 20 Max Trimble.
COVENTRY DEVELOPMENT: 15 Max Titchener, 14 James Neal, 13 Joe Lane, 12 Isaac McNulty, 11 Louis Roach, 10 Brendan Burke, 9 Sam Payne, 1 Tarik Tin, 2 Willie Priestley, 3 Jack Higgins, 4 Kailus Hutchinson, 5 Cameron Gray, 6 Mike Ryan, 7 Sam McNulty, 8 Tom Price.
Replacements: 16 Phil Ackuaku, 17 Charley Robinson, 18 Matt Price, 19 Myles Hibbs.
Tom Little previews the rest of this weekend’s National League One programme
Bishop’s Stortford v Esher kick off 2.30pm
Caldy v Hull Ionians 2.00pm
Cambridge v Birmingham Moseley 2.00pm
Darlington Mowden Park v Rosslyn Park 2.00pm
Fylde v Blackheath
Loughborough Students v Old Albanian
Old Elthamians v Coventry Rugby 2.00pm
Plymouth Albion v Ampthill & District
Week 11 sees the competition at both ends of the table heating up with leaders Coventry facing a difficult trip to Old Elthamians whilst two of the top four, Plymouth Albion and Ampthill meet and fifth-placed Blackheath have a tricky visit to bottom side Fylde. With four of the bottom five sides all meeting, this weekend could be a nervous one for both players and supporters.
Separated by just one point but by two positions, fourth-placed Plymouth Albion are at home to second-placed Ampthill & District. The second-best attack in the league against the second-best defence – so something must give way. Still unbeaten at home Albion should just win in a tight and nervous encounter, but with little separating the sides a win for either could continue to put pressure on the leaders Coventry.
Another side unbeaten at home with five straight wins, Darlington Mowden Park face Rosslyn Park in the north-east. Rosslyn Park have seen their form fluctuate, but a fine draw against Plymouth last week will give them some confidence for the long trek north. With DMP probably missing some key Falcons players it could be a lot closer than first expected. However, at home DMP should have the edge for a narrow win to keep up their challenge to the leaders.
Still in fifth place despite two consecutive losses, Blackheath travel to bottom club Fylde. On the face of it an easy away win, but Fylde will have renewed confidence after a win last week and at home they may even spring a surprise. The game could be a lot closer than expected as both sides need the win for different reasons.
Bishop’s Stortford, in sixth place after consecutive wins, entertain tenth-placed Esher whose last two winning games have given them the necessary impetus to start climbing the table. It could be a high scoring match with BS slight home favourites, but Esher with their recent improved form cannot be written off.
Mid-table teams Cambridge and Birmingham Moseley meet with both sides needing a win to move them away from the danger zone. Home side Cambridge are five points behind their visitors and have lost their last two games, whilst Moseley have won their last two. Of the two sides, Moseley appear to have the more experienced pack and effective backs, and they should be slight favourites for a win which may move them into the top half, while another loss for Cambridge will leave them perilously close to the relegation zone.
Some recent poor results, but not necessarily performances, have seen Caldy drop into the final relegation spot but only one point from safety. They have 12th-placed Hull Ionians as their visitors in a game of importance to both sides. Although Caldy put up a good display at Coventry, they will find the Hull Ionians pack in mean form with their driving maul and engineering penalty tries. Another close game which could tip either way.
Another key game near the basement sees 15th-placed Loughborough Students at home to 13th-placed Old Albanian. Both sides will probably have most of their Premiership dual registration players missing, so it is a game which could go either way. Another loss for the Students could leave them with a mountain to climb in the second half of the season.