Injury-hit Cornish Pirates still upbeat ahead of Leeds trip
Cornish Pirates' battle to keep their Championship season on course continues with another daunting trip north, this week to Leeds Carnegie.
Last week's 50-3 defeat to league leaders Newcastle – coming off the back of a home reverse to London Scottish – has left the Cornishmen a point behind fourth-placed Bristol, having played a game more.
Only the top four clubs go through to the play-offs this season and, with just six league games remaining, head coach Ian Davies knows his injury-ravaged side cannot afford to drop more points.
Pirates' medical reports read slightly better this week, but Davies will still be without experienced forwards Laurie McGlone (head injury), Alan Paver (bicep) and Ben Maidment (hamstring), at the very least.
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"Things are looking a little better but not massively so," said Davies. "Gavin Cattle is probably 50-50, rather than being out totally.
"Darren Barry is also 50-50 along with Phil Burgess. Laurie McGlone is definitely out and so is Alan Paver along with Ben Maidment.
"But if we start to feel sorry for ourselves a little bit with the injury crisis we have, the season could whimper out and we certainly don't want that to happen.
"We know it is going to be a huge battle. They didn't play last weekend, so they have had a good week's rest coming into this game.
"The talk in their camp is that they have done a lot of analysis on us and know a lot about us. They are treating this as a quarter-final, which is to a certain extent.
"Whichever team loses this game will find it really difficult to keep on the tails of Bristol or even overtake them."
Davies is certainly doing his best to remain positive. Last weekend's loss at Kingston Park, with a much-changed side compared to the previous weeks, contained pleasing elements.
"It was a huge performance by us, full of guts and determination," said Davies. "We didn't score any tries but we certainly created chances. We just needed a little bit of extra accuracy against the best defence in the Championship.
"The tries were never going to come easily and because we missed maybe that five per cent of accuracy, it cost us a couple of scores.
"What we said at half time that against anyone else in the league we could have easily been three tries to nil up. As it was, we were a bonus point down. It was strange because all the players were very buoyant afterwards.
"We conceded 50 points but it wasn't a 50-point thrashing and Newcastle certainly had to work for their tries.
"Although, by the last couple, fatigue had started to set in with us. We were down to the bare bones in terms of selection – we had six forwards, one back on the bench and three of those were not fit either. For us to go there and put in such a performance was fantastic.
"We have to build on that in these important six remaining league games as well as in the British and Irish Cup.
"If we play with the same intensity and determination but add a little bit of accuracy, we could finish the season on a high note."