Davies drafts in the heavyweights as Pirates seek Jersey revenge
A crucial fortnight for the Cornish Pirates in the British & Irish Cup begins on Saturday night at the Mennaye Field, with the first of their back to back meetings with Jersey (7pm).
The Pirates currently top Pool 6, having registered two bonus point wins in their opening fixtures, and could feasibly eliminate their Championship rivals with strong performances home and away.
Topping the group is the priority for Ian Davies' squad, with only the first placed teams guaranteed a place in the quarter finals, but the Pirates will need to be wary of a Jersey side who parted company with their Director of Rugby Ben Harvey this week.
Jersey have registered only one win in their last seven games but that came at home to the Pirates last month, and Pirates boss Davies has picked a heavy duty pack for tomorrow's game as he looks to exact some revenge.
A new-look front row sees the experience of Shane Cahill, Rob Elloway and Ben Prescott drafted in, while Will Graulich comes off the bench to partner James Sandford in the second row.
In a powerful back row Chris Morgan is joined by Exeter Chiefs duo Joel Conlon and James Phillips, who made his debut at Nottingham last Sunday.
Gavin Cattle captains the side and is joined at half-back by Matt Evans. Youngsters Kyle Moyle and Luke Jones get their first starts of the season on the wings, with Craig Holland continuing at full-back. The centre pairing of Rheon James and Tom Riley remains unchanged.
Prop Jack Andrew, lock Darren Barry, and centre Alex Dancer all return to the squad and are named on the bench.
Jersey meanwhile have announced Forwards Coach Steve Boden has taken over as Interim Head Coach.
Boden had no time for any suggestions that the British & Irish Cup was a lesser competition to the regular diet of league action in the Greene King IPA Championship.
"I'm not looking at this as a cup game, or a league game, it's a Jersey 1st team game, and if anyone's suggesting it's less important, I'd say their attitude isn't good enough – I expect my squad to be fully committed,” he said.
Injuries have taken their toll, with regulars such as Sean McCarthy and Dave Young out of the squad, and a continued shortage of backs meaning Latu Makaafi will cover the three-quarter line from the bench. This has led to starting berths for regular bench players like Tom Fidler, Nick Selway, Dave Markham and James Voss, a return from injury for Fred Silcock, and further opportunities for talented Academy graduates Jack Burroughs and Luke Stratford.
"We are a bit short in some areas, but if we go into this game with the right attitude that will more than make up for it,” he said. "There are also people coming in who have the chance to make their case for selection in the next two games before Christmas and in the second half of the season, and I hope they'll give me some problems when I come to pick the squad in future weeks.
"We gave one of our better performances against Pirates three weeks ago, although we did make it hard for ourselves by conceding some soft tries early on. We'll be looking to build on that, but I also expect a backlash from Pirates – they'll be looking to show their home fans what they can do.”
Although reluctant to dwell on the departure of Director of Rugby Ben Harvey earlier in the week, Boden said: "Ben made a massive contribution to this club and he gave me my first coaching role, so I'll always respect him. But that's in the past now, and we need to head onwards and upwards.”
Cornish Pirates: Holland, Jones, Riley, James, Moyle, Evans, Cattle (capt); Cahill, Elloway, Prescott, Graulich, Sandford, Morgan, Conlon, Phillips. Replacements – Channon, Andrew, Barry, Cheesman, Pope, Sinclair, Dancer.
Jersey: Drew Locke, James Copsey, Mark McCrea, Mark Foster, Jack Burroughs, Niall O'Connor, Joel Dudley, Tom Fidler, Dave Felton, Nick Selway, Nick Campbell, Dave Markham, James Voss, Fred Silcock, Tom Brown (capt). Replacements: Elvis Taione, Luke Stratford, Jon Brennan, Alex Rae, Joe Buckle, Jimmy Williams, Latu Makaafi.
Referee: Dean Richards.
* Support Your Local Team & Get In For A Fiver: For this important British & Irish Cup game there's an opportunity for rugby supporters from all Cornish clubs to gain admission for just £5.
This special ticket offer is open to all supporters who can either verify that they are members of a Cornish club by showing their club membership card, or by displaying a ticket stub or match programme from another game that they will have watched that day in Cornwall.
Ground entry for supporters taking up this offer will be at Gate 4, situated in the corner between the main clubhouse and the squash courts.
There's the prospect of a bumper Saturday night crowd at the Mennaye Field where, besides the rugby, there'll be entertainment and refreshments with a band from Humphry Davy School, while the local group Blue Horyzon will perform in the upgraded marquee after the match.
British & Irish Cup - Round 3 fixtures:
Friday December 6
Moseley v Ealing Trailfinders, 19.30
Plymouth Albion v Munster 'A', 19.45
Saturday December 7
London Welsh v Edinburgh Academicals, 14:00
Leinster A v Cross Keys, 14:30
Pontypridd v London Scottish, 14:30
Connacht Eagles v Bedford Blues, 14:30
Aberavon v Leeds Carnegie, 15:00
Stirling County v Nottingham, 15:00
Ayr v Ulster Ravens, 15:00
Llanelli v RotherhamTitans, 15:30
Cornish Pirates v Jersey, 19:00
Sunday December 8
Bristol Rugby v Gala, 14:00