TOM Ball will make his 50th appearance for Coventry in tomorrow’s Championship clash with Ampthill (2pm kick off).
The homegrown flanker, who scored within seconds of arriving from the bench against Caldy last weekend, reaches the landmark as part of a Cov side looking to pick up where they left off in their belated league opener.
After kicking off the campaign a week behind their rivals, Alex Rae’s team pulled away from their first Butts Park Arena opponents during an impressive second half which produced five tries and 31 unanswered points.
Bedfordshire-based Ampthill also face front rowers Adam Nicol, Suva Ma’asi and Arthur Cordwell plus lock Rhys Anstey – all of whom started the Caldy game sitting alongside Ball on the replacements’ bench.
Obi Nkwocha’s eye-catching Coventry league debut sees him move from lock to blindside flanker at Dillingham Park while last week’s man-of-the-match Matt Kvesic wears the no.8 shirt in which he finished the Caldy contest.
This leaves second row George Smith, who claimed two of his club’s five second-half tries, as the only forward to start both of Cov’s opening league games with the same number on his back.
By contrast, Cov’s only change behind the scrum sees Tongan international fly half Pat Pellegrini return to the starting line-up with Evan Mitchell taking his place on the bench.
With Will Rigg missing following a head knock sustained last week, full-back Tobi Wilson is named on the bench alongside former Ampthill flanker Paddy Ryan who returned from a USA training camp on Thursday.
Club captain Jordon Poole is also among the replacements and with Toby Trinder an absentee Cov name Will Chudley and Kvesic as co-captains.
Cov left Ampthill with a seven-try 45-21 success at the end of last season but with conditions likely to be very different Rae is expecting a tough test at a venue where the blue-and-whites have historically found little success.
Rae said: “Ampthill is one of the hardest places to go in the Championship, they have some good players and have recently also picked up a couple from Jersey.
“They have a partnership with Saracens which sees some very good players go to Ampthill on loan, are always well coached and play some good rugby so we’re expecting a tight game.”
Coventry Rugby: James; Hutler, Wand, Titherington, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley; Cordwell, Ma’asi, Nicol; Anstey, Smith; Nkowcha, Ball, Kvesic.
Replacements: Poole, Chilvers, Salt, Bartlett, Ryan, Lane, Mitchell, Wilson
Coventry’s clash with Ampthill takes place on Saturday, November 4 with kick-off at 2pm at Dillingham Park.