What originally looked like a numerical anomaly might actually turn out to be a stroke of genius if Kevin Maggs’ decision to swap Chevvy Pennycook and Michael Ellery continues to pay dividends.
Normally a No. 8, the quicksilver Ellery operated at openside – Pennycook’s favoured position, against Doncaster last weekend while Pennycook moved to the back of the scrum in Mose’s 17-15 victory, just their third in the league this season.
Ellery responded with another long range score and played effectively as a tail-gunner to unsettle inexperienced Knights fly-half David McIlwaine and Pennycook brought his customary calm assurance to the rear of the scrum.
And while Maggs admits there are still options to be explored in the back row, with Michael Maltman coming back to form but currently unable to dislodge Neil Mason and Ben Pons recovering from surgery, the head coach says he was pleased with the experiment.
“We felt Chevvy’s footwork can get him out of a lot of danger coming off the back,” Maggs explained.
“Although Ellery is quick, sometimes if we are under a bit of pressure to get it away I think Chevvy can get out of that little bit of danger and buy an extra bit of time with his footwork.
“We asked Ellery to come off the side of the scrum with a bit more pace and put pressure on their ten because he is quicker than the other guys;
“We still need to work on our back row defence with those guys being there, it’s an ongoing thing that we have to keep fine-tuning and make sure we are singing off the same sheet.
“I think it worked well against Doncaster. Chevvy defended very well, Wag was Wag on a normal day, he was his abrasive, annoying self to the other team,” he said.
“It just proves that Ellery going forward is outstanding, one thing he has got which a lot of boys in this league would want – some of the backs even – is pace. You can’t coach that.”
Yet again the former Westoe player caught the eye on Saturday with his fifth try of the campaign, once more from inside his own half as he simply blazed past the Doncaster defence.
That was Ellery’s first try since coming back from a knee injury and Maggs hopes it is a sign that he has returned to his brilliant early season form.
“Going forward with the ball in hand he is fantastic and he has been fantastic from a defensive point of view and he does do all the donkey work.
“It’s just getting it out of him every week,” he said.
“He could get himself into the game more – a lot of the boys can – he has just got to put himself in better positions to carry. If he does that he can be phenomenal.”