RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby bring back experienced pair for Pirates visit - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby bring back experienced pair for Pirates visit

Aaron Sutcliffe 26th Jan, 2024 Updated: 26th Jan, 2024   0

COVENTRY Rugby head coach Alex Rae has opted for experience in tomorrow’s starting line-up to face Cornish Pirates by making two changes.

The two changes to the side that began last week’s round nine Championship win at London Scottish see no.8 Senitiki Nayalo and scrum-half Will Chudley restored to the starting line-up.

Fijian powerhouse Nayalo reclaims the no.8 shirt from Jack Bartlett – who moves to the bench – after missing Cov’s fourth successive bonus point win seven days earlier due to his British Army commitments.

And 2022/23 supporters’ club player-of-the-season Chudley, who left his seat among the replacements to join the action at the Richmond Athletic Ground at half-time, makes his 13th start of the season.

The former Exeter no.9 again partners Tongan international fly half Pat Pellegrini who needs three points to become the first blue-and-white to pass 100 for the season.

Ryan Hutler has recovered from the knock that saw him limp off in the closing stages of Cov’s win over the Exiles to take his place on the right wing from where he has already this term registered 13 tries in as many starts.

A massive forward battle is in prospect against the traditionally strong Pirates pack – and Rae has countered this by naming a same-again front row that will hope to repeat its impressive scrummaging display against London Scottish.

James Tyas makes his landmark 50th Coventry appearance from the second row against a club with whom he spent a season on loan from Bath’s academy over a decade ago.

Cov are again skippered by in-form hooker Jordon Poole for whom fit-again Will Biggs provides bench cover while replacement props Eliot Salt and Elliot Chilvers will hope to reprise the big impact made in the closing stages last week.

Rae said: “I hear that ticket sales are going really well and we could have close to 4,000 here again.

“That’s really exciting for the lads – it makes such a difference to have that level of support and a buzz around the place. We’ll be doing our best to give them a performance they can be proud of.

“I know teams below us have games in hand but top spot is where you’re striving to be.

“We might be there for a week or for a month but regardless it sets the tone and shows what is possible through hard work.

“Teams are well aware of how well we’ve done at home and how difficult it is to come to the Butts Park Arena and win.

“Pirates have three tough away games coming up on the bounce and they will be looking to get the ball rolling for their visits to Ealing and Bedford when they come here tomorrow.

“It should be a great advertisement for Championship rugby.”

Coventry’s line-up

Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Hutler, Wand, Rigg, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley; Nairau, Poole, Nicol; Tyas, Nkwocha; Ball, Kvesic, Nayalo.

Replacements: Biggs, Chilvers, Salt, Anstey, Ryan, Lane, Titherington, Bartlett.

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