Cold snap denies Cornish Pirates chance to let off steam
THE decision to postpone the Pirates game at Newcastle some 48 hours before kick-off was both timely and sensible.
Snow and freezing temperatures had left the game in doubt well before club supporters were mobilised to try and clear the pitch, but slow progress and the prospect of more bad weather for the evening of the match itself curtailed the rescue mission.
With so many people working on an already wet playing surface there was also a severe risk of damage to the pitch, and the Falcons may have had one eye on another forthcoming game at Kingston Park as they agreed to make an early call for the Pirates.
They have scheduled and England Saxons versus Scotland A representative game for this weekend and will expect a big crowd. Not having the pitch playable for that one would not be tolerated by the RFU. The only problem for the Newcastle squad is that they will miss the game due to having to play a re-arranged B&I Cup game in Wales on the same night which has no doubt added to the lengthy list of things which have displeased Dean Richards this season.
So for the Cornish Pirates some quick re-scheduling allowed the small squad a few days off to shake off the bumps and bruises from that bad day at Carmarthen. To be fair the players I spoke to were looking forward to trying to bounce back at the Falcons but a break from live action now until February 10 may not be such a bad thing. While they have been taking in some much appreciated R&R several games did go ahead over the weekend with results which will have largely satisfied the Pirates.
At the top end of the table Bristol pegged back Leeds with a narrow three point win at the Memorial Ground. The absence of tries meant no bonus points for either and coupled with the fact that Leeds have been ordered by the RFU to replay their home game against Plymouth Albion due to an unfit Headingley pitch, they remain below the Pirates in the table in 6th.
On current form it is unlikely that Leeds will fail to register a repeat win against the struggling Devonians but it means another 80 minutes of tough physical rugby for them when most other teams are having a break. That could all take its toll in coming weeks while for Plymouth the need to get a win, any kind of win, from somewhere is starting to ring some big alarm bells in the vicinity of Brickfields.
Without a Championship success since early November Saturday's narrow 9-6 reverse to Moseley will have hurt badly and they now have just three more home games left to play.
Of those only Jersey are the only opponents you can see them taking points from with Bedford Blues and Newcastle Falcons also due in town. I can't see them getting relegated but it could be a close thing after such a good start to the season.
In the other league game played last weekend Jersey picked up another invaluable win at home, this time against Rotherham. That will again have pleased the Cornish Pirates as it keeps the Yorkshire side firmly at arm's length in mid-table, while the Islanders in turn have heaped yet more pressure on bottom side Doncaster.
Jersey still have it all to do with games yet to play against five of the six play-off candidates as well as a potential relegation shoot-out at home to Doncaster on April 13.
Seven days later they are due at the Mennaye Field to round off their season against the Pirates. What odds, I wonder, would you get on the Pirates needing a win that day to make the play-offs and Jersey needing victory just to survive?
– Dick Straughan