RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby shuffle the pack for Exiles clash - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Coventry Rugby shuffle the pack for Exiles clash

Coventry Editorial 19th Jan, 2024   0

COVENTRY Rugby head coach Alex Rae has made two changes and a further positional switch in his pack for tomorrow’s Championship trip to London Scottish.

The blue-and-whites return to league action 19 days after completing a festive season East Midlands double with a confident 34-19 success at Bedford.

And they do so with a reshaped back-row in which the pacy Tom Ball joins Matt Kvesic on the flanks and Jack Bartlett starts at no.8 in the absence of Tiki Nayalo who is away with the British Army.

With Cov’s front-row injury situation easing significantly during December, they are able to select six of their own squad to fill the starting and replacement front row roles. This is the first time since mid-September that a Premiership loan player has not featured in a match day 23.

Fijian prop Vili Nairau, who played 55 minutes across two stints at tight head at Goldington Road on New Year’s Day, shows his versatility by switching to the left-hand side of the scrum at the Richmond Athletic Ground.

This allows powerful tighthead Adam Nicol to make his return from a hamstring tear that sidelined him since mid-October with Elliot Chilvers and Eliot Salt on the bench.

The in-form Jordon Poole skippers Coventry from the middle of the front row with fit-again Will Biggs providing cover among the replacements.

Cov’s only change behind the scrum sees Will Lane handed a first league start of the season at scrum half while Will Chudley switches to the bench.

Otherwise Rae names a same-again backline whose attacking potency has already delivered 35 tries so far this season – 19 of which have been touched down by wingers Jimmy Martin and Ryan Hutler.

A third pacy winger, David Opoku, gets another chance to impress should he appear from among the replacements while centre Lucas Titherington is also in line to make his return from injury in the no.22 shirt.

Rae said: “We’re expecting a really tough game tomorrow.

“Scottish have already turned Ealing over at the RAG and the games they’ve lost recently have all been to pretty much the last kick.

“We could easily be facing a side who have won their last four or five games on the bounce so it’s a really dangerous game for us and one we’re taking very seriously.”

Coventry’s clash with London takes place on Saturday, January 20 with kick-off at 3pm at Richmond Athletic Ground.

Coventry’s line-up

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

Replacements: Biggs, Chilvers, Salt, Anstey, Ryan, Chudley, Titherington, Opoku.

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