Doncaster Knights v Coventry: Selection issues fine with head coach Steve Boden

There will be no complacency from Doncaster Knights when they face inconsistent Coventry today as coach Steve Boden believes they remain the “most dangerous” side they have faced.

Saturday, 18th December 2021, 10:22 am
Doncaster Knights captain Sam Graham. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

Although the Midlanders spent heavily on assembling their 2021-22 squad, they have not been rewarded thus far given they have lost more Championship games than they have won.

As well as signing Doncaster prop Joe Jones, they also recruited the likes of ex-Saracens second-row Jon Kpoku and former Yorkshire Carnegie flanker Josh Bainbridge.

Boden, whose side are fourth with six wins in seven games, said: “It’s not gone according to plan for them.

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“You look at the resources they have got – and I know they go into the loan market a bit – but they have some extremely talented players.

“They have a team full of unbelievable individual talent and when those talents click they are very dangerous.

“That’s what I think they have been this year: they are very dangerous as they have a lot of X Factor in the side.

“I know they have been under the pump with a few injuries and that has probably hampered the team cohesion a little but they are probably the most dangerous side we’ve played.”

Boden added: “Look at them last week against Jersey when they were under the pump 29-3 down at half-time but came back and lost 29-24; they can score points and have great strike runners.

“We have to be on our mettle defensively on Saturday because they will definitely test our edge defence and move us around a little bit.

“We’ll have to work hard.”

Moreover, one of Coventry’s four wins so far was a 39-22 success against Doncaster in September although Boden’s men have clearly improved since that round two fixture.

The Knights, who swept past Nottingham last weekend, are picking from strength and Boden is able to make three changes to further augment his side.

“We have some competition this week and a few boys who could have easily played who are missing out,” he said.

“It’s been a tough selection; you can tell there’s been some bite in training.

“We are going to have to rotate our squad.

“It’s a long season and there’s a lot of uncertainty around Covid so you have to be ready to play.

“Some lads have come in and played well but sometimes that is still not enough.”

As an example of that stiff competition, Boden cited the situation of the side’s captain.

He said: “Sam Graham is out with a hamstring injury.

“He probably could have played this weekend but I thought that the back-row was outstanding against Nottingham so there’s no point rushing him back.

“The flip side of that, is that Sam Graham is the captain of the side.

“But now the predicament for him is he’s got to try and get back into the side, let alone being captain of it!

“It is good for me, as a coach, though.”

Of the changes made to face Coventry, tighthead Gareth Denman comes in for Andrew Foster who drops to the replacements while centre Mark Best and winger Jack Spittle return to the side in place of Connor Edwards and Kyle Evans respectively.

Former Coventry lock George Oram could make his debut from the bench where Sale Sharks loanee Ben Carlile and George Roberts join Foster as the front-row replacements.