Doncaster Knights v Coventry - Competition for starting spots fierce as coach Steve Boden rings changes

Doncaster Knights head coach Steve Boden has shown his ruthless streak already by making seven changes for tonight’s Championship game against Coventry at Castle Park.

By Dave Craven
Friday, 12th March 2021, 9:53 am
Charlie Foley is back in the Doncaster Knights' starting line-up to face Coventry. Picture: Tony Johnson
Charlie Foley is back in the Doncaster Knights' starting line-up to face Coventry. Picture: Tony Johnson

Knights won Sunday’s long-awaited league opener at Ampthill 19-17 courtesy of Kyle Evans’ late converted try but that has not stopped Boden making major alterations for his first competitive home game.

Among them, Billy McBride comes in for on-loan Wasps full-back Tom Bacon, and Connor Edwards, their new loan signing from Newport Gwent Dragons, goes straight in at centre alongside recalled Charlie Foley.

Boden has also promoted lock pairing Matt Challinor and Jerry Sexton from the bench as he prepares for ambitious Coventry

“We have made a few changes to the side,” he explained.

“We have competition here and you have to play really, really well to keep your shirt in this team; I’m looking forward to seeing the guys who get opportunities on Friday.

“Coventry are a big club in this league so for a club like Doncaster to get a result against a side like them it is going to be a huge ask.

“We’ll have to be a lot better than what we were on Sunday but we’re looking forward to it.”

Boden is seeking a greater clinical touch compared to the weekend where Doncaster’s profligacy allowed their hosts the chance to almost snatch victory.

“I was really happy with the win,” he insisted.

“If someone had said you’d get four points on your opening day away at Ampthill, having travelled on the day and set off quite early for a 1pm kick-off, we’d have probably taken it.

“The disappointing thing was that the game should have been put to bed by half-time. We probably missed five or six big opportunities in the first half.

“If we’d have taken just two of those it’s a completely different game; we’d have been 22-7 up and they can’t then just slow the game down and grind it out like they wanted.

“Still, we did create chances. That’s the positive. We just need to start finishing them off now.”

Boden will hope the changes made will allow that to happen this evening but he knows Coventry are a potent side.

Led by former Yorkshire Carnegie captain Ryan Burrows, the No8 who had a loan spell at Castle Park in 2019-20, they also have ex-Doncaster centre Will Owen in their ranks.

They needed a late finish, too, to win their opener, scoring a penalty with the game’s last kick to edge past Bedford Blues 10-9 in a scrappy encounter.

“I know Buzz (Burrows) pretty well as I’ve coached him for two or three years,” said Boden. “He’s a dangerous ball carrier – they have a few like that – and they are a well-funded, big, full-time outfit.

“People look at us like that because of the facilities we have got here. But the last few years we’ve finished ninth, tenth and 11th. We want to change that. We have to concentrate on improving performances and getting back on the right path. We got off to a good start on Sunday and hopefully we can now go better again.”