Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Plymouth Albion make three changes for trip to old rivals Coventry

Dan Collier Albion Coventry

PLYMOUTH Albion will make three changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s tough National One trip to Butts Park to take on old rivals Coventry (3pm).

All the changes come in the pack, with last week’s two-try hero Rupert Freestone, Tom Cowan-Dickie and top try scorer Dan Williams dropping out of the team and Sam Nixon, Jamie Salter and George Mills coming into the side.

Freestone, Cowan-Dickie and Williams will be on the bench, alongside fit-again experienced lock Dan Collier and Dean Squire, who will be the only back replacement.

Coventry include former Albion flanker Eoghan Grace in their starting line-up, with another ex-Plymouth man James Pritchard, who is a player-coach at Butts Park, named as a reserve. However, there is no place in the Coventry squad or the reserve list for Alistair Bone or Tom Jubb.

Grace, who is Coventry’s joint captain, will be familiar with many of the Albion squad. He played alongside Williams, Herbie Stupple, Cowan-Dickie, Dan Pullinger and Cameron Setter during his two years at Brickfields.

Albion currently sit six points and four places above Coventry in the table.

Plymouth have won five out of their seven matches, while Coventry have only won three, although they have played the top three sides.

The Midlands club’s wins have come against Fylde, Macclesfield and Loughborough Students. Their defeats have been at the hands of Hartpury College, Moseley, Blackheath and Esher.

Like Albion, Coventry’s home form has been good. All their wins have come at Butts Park, with their only defeat on home soil a narrow 27-23 reverse to leaders Hartpury.

Coventry’s director of rugby Rowland Winter said: “Plymouth will be a big challenge for us. They have been performing well and have a good squad.

“But we are looking forward to the test and will be aiming for another home win.”

Coventry this week boosted their squad with the arrival of Leicester Tigers youngster Freddie Tuilagi Junior. He is named on their bench.

Last year’s matches between Albion and Coventry went with home advantage. However, Albion were frustrated with their trip to Butts Park where they lost 26-19 to a last-gasp controversial try. Plymouth, though, did get their revenge at Brickfields with a 29-18 win.

Albion have visited Butts Park seven times since Coventry moved there in 2004.

Plymouth have won twice there – in the 2005/06 and 2008/09 seasons – while the first meeting there ended in a 25-25 draw, with Pritchard missing a last-gasp conversion that could have won the game for Albion.

Current Albion player-coach Kieran Hallett did kick a vital conversion on Plymouth’s last win at Butts Park.

A host of players have featured for both clubs. As well as Grace, Pritchard, Bone and Jubb, others to wear the shirt of both clubs include Aaron Carpenter, Ben Gulliver, Arthur Brenton, Mark Kohler, Heath Stevens, Rob Dugard, Davy McGregor, Tom Hicks, Stewart Pearl, Darren Clayton, Stuart Friswell, Steve Johns and Nigel Cane.

ALBION: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Seti Raumakita, 12 Joe Simmonds, 11 Harrison Cully, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Sam Nixon, 2 Jamie Salter, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Ed Holmes, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple. Reps: Tom Cowan-Dickie, Dan Williams, Rupert Freestone, Dean Squire, Dan Collier.

COVENTRY: 15 James Stokes, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Corey Hircock, 12 Will Maisey, 11 Owain James, 10 Tony Fenner, 9 Pete White, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Matt Price, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Rob Conquest, 5  Brendon Snyman, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Eoghan Grace, 8 Darrell Dyer. Reps (from): Scott Tolmie, Boris Stankovich, Freddie Tuilagi, Rhodri Adamson, Rob Knox. Reserves: Jimmy Litchfield, Tom Poole, James Pritchard.

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