Steventon is set to miss Siam
RAIDERS aim to make it a magnificent seven wins in a row tomorrow, but will have to do so without influential prop Sam Steventon.
The powerful loosehead was helped off the pitch during the first half of last weekend’s nail-biting 17-16 victory over Henley Hawks and yesterday Guernsey’s director of rugby revealed that Steventon has a fracture in his tibia which could sideline him until December.
‘It looks like he will be out for four to six weeks,’ said Jordan Reynolds.
‘It was actually from “friendly fire” – one of our own guys caught him. It is just one of those things.’
It means that Darrin Bellingham comes into the starting XV for the trip to Hinckley and Cameron Craine comes onto the bench.
‘We are looking to share the workload between the props,’ added Reynolds.
‘Jacob Pinkney was supposed to be on a rest week, but we have been giving him 40 minutes in the last couple of weeks, so he is feeling fresh at the moment.
‘The front row are guys we have to look after.’
The management team are keeping faith with the rest of the side who started against the Hawks, although Owen Thomas makes a return to the bench having missed last weekend through injury and is joined there by Hugo Culverhouse.
‘We felt everyone performed well,’ said Reynolds, who was absent from the sideline against Hawks while he awaited the results of a PCR test, which proved to be negative.
‘We thought Matt Armstrong came back in and had one of his better games for us – he was excellent on defence and attack.
‘We thought Dan Rice did some really good things and think that increasing his minutes is really important. Owen is just coming back from injury, too, so there is no need to rush him back in.
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‘Hugo got through some good minutes in the Vikings game last week and we have opted for him on the bench because he can fit into the back row or the second row, so he gives us a couple more options.
‘We did consider giving either Oscar [Baird] or Dom [Rice] a rest because they have put in a lot of work so far and the offer was there, but they shot us down pretty quickly. The fact that they wanted to play says a lot about them and where we are as a group.’
Hinckley are currently 14th in National Two South with just the one win to their name so far, although that does not tell the whole story of their season to date as their form has improved markedly since a tough three games in September.
They romped to a 66-5 home win over Westcliff a fortnight ago and either side of that fixture they finished within a score of both Clifton and Esher to earn bonus points on the road.
‘They had a tough start to the season with players unavailable,’ Reynolds said.
‘Their captain, who plays No. 8, was suspended for the first few weeks and has just returned in the last couple of weeks and you can see the difference he makes.
‘They are a unique side in the way they play. They are very patient with ball in hand, they play for penalties, have a very strong scrum and they have a better catch-and-drive than Henley, who have a good one themselves. We managed to nullify Henley’s catch-and-drive last week but Hinckley have a bigger-sized pack.
‘Hinckley are going to win a lot of games this season, I’ve got no doubt about that, and we cannot go up there and fake it by putting in half a performance and expect to get a result.
‘After the tough game we had last week, it would be easy to take the foot off the throttle, but if we do that we are going to lose. We put in an 80-minute performance last week and we need to do the same again.’
Darrin Bellingham, Tom Ceillam, Jacob Pinkney, Lewis Hillier, Brad Webb, Oscar Baird, Dom Rice, Doug Horrocks, Charlie Simmonds, Dan Rice, Callum Roberts, Ethan Smith, Matt Armstrong, Anthony Armstrong, Joe Andresen. Replacements: Charlie Currie, Cameron Craine, Hugo Culverhouse, Owen Thomas, Charlie Davies.