YORKSHIRE Carnegie director of rugby Martyn Wood says some of the club’s under-performing players have been challenged this week and he is expecting a response against Coventry tomorrow.
The club is still awaiting its first win of the season after five successive losses.
Last week’s 53-22 defeat at newly-promoted Ampthill was arguably the most dispiriting and there has been issues that needed to be addressed.
“It was disappointing,” said Wood.
“We were seven points down and on top of them in the second half.
“We let ourselves down with line-out errors, though, they scored two tries and in the end the scoreline flattered them a little bit given how the game went.
“But I genuinely thought we had a real opportunity to win that game so it was disappointing.
“We have to keep fighting. We have to keep working hard. The boys have responded pretty well.
“A few of them have been under a bit of criticism from the coaches and myself but they have responded and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”
Perhaps predictably given their off-season chaos, Carnegie sit bottom of the Championship table, the only side – Hartpury University being the other – still yet to pick up a point after just two rounds.
They lost all three of their Championship Cup games, too, and the management team of Wood and player-coach Joe Ford have made further changes for the visit of Coventry.
Newcastle Falcons’ Joel Matavesi has come in this week and will play at inside centre with Dan Lancaster dropping to the bench.
Sione Faletau comes in for his first appearances of the season. The prop returned to Headingley this season, having previously played for the club in 2017.
Carnegie could give a debut to Jordan Howden, the half-back who has been playing for Doncaster’s rugby league side in recent seasons, and Wasps openside James Seabrook is another who comes into the side.
Coventry – who have popular former Carnegie captain Ryan Burrows in their ranks – got their first league win with a
26-19 success over Bedford Blues on Saturday.
Wood added: “They are a big powerful team with some real quality players.
“We have to crack our scrum and line-out while our defence will need to be well-organised; we really need to get off the line fast against Coventry.
“When we have the ball ourselves we do cause teams real problems but we have to sort other areas.”
Coventry make three changes to the starting line-up from the win over Bedford, with Scott Tolmie and Senitiki Nayalo coming into the pack.
Out wide there is a first start of the season for David Halaifonua, who returned to Butts Park Arena last week following his Rugby World Cup outings for Tonga in Japan, and Joe Buckle returns to his former club as one of the replacements.