Pirates expecting bruising Cup battle at Swansea
SIX days after beating Swansea at the Mennaye Field the Cornish Pirates will bid to make it four wins out of four in this season's British & Irish Cup as they travel to St.Helens on Saturday (4.30pm) for the return game against the Welsh Premiership side, writes Dick Straughan.
The All Whites are effectively out of the competition after going down 27-9 in Cornwall (see page 118), while the Pirates certainly need to wins from their final three pool fixtures to cement their place as group winners.
With the final two games being staged in mid-January they know that a win in Swansea is imperative if they are to maintain control of Pool 3, but that will mean doing something they have yet to do since the inception of this tournament – win in Wales. A fact that head coach Ian Davies is all too aware of.
"To be honest both games we lost in Wales at Newport and then Cross Keys we should have won," he said. "We were in control and came unstuck so this time we have to make sure we go there and do the job."
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With the top four qualifiers earning home quarter-final draws Davies was also acutely aware that dropping a bonus point at home was hardly helpful to his team.
He explained: "We let ourselves down by not picking up a bonus point at home and in terms of qualifying we are probably still in the top four but making life hard for ourselves."
And Davies knows that his team will have to improve a great deal to counter a much tougher threat from the All Whites this weekend.
He sdaid: "They are a very young side with a couple of good players. I thought (Dan) Baker, the No8, was impressive although he got on the back foot a couple of times but he drove well. Sam Davies at ten showed why he has played for the Ospreys this year in the LV= Cup, but I expect them to be totally different at home. They will throw the kitchen sink at us."
Back rower Kyle Marriott came through his first competitive action since September unscathed and on-loan Bath flanker Joe Buckle again impressed, although along with James Tyas he picked up a knock in the game.
One player who will be missing for up to six weeks is Phil Burgess who sustained a fractured jaw against Bedford.
Jack Yeandle has been recalled by Exeter Chiefs and both Sam Hill and JJ Kilmartin are at U20 squad training camps this week with England and Scotland respectively. New signing from St Ives Kyle Moyle may feature in the matchday 22 before beginning his loan spell with Cornish All Blacks.
Cornish Pirates (from): Kilmartin, Riley, Fatialofa, Hallett, Bedford, Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Lyons, B.Maidment, Storer, Semmens, Barry, Kessell, Cheesman, Paver, Joyce, McGlone, Mercer, Davies, Cattle, Buckle, Marriott, Tyas, Hambly, Duncan, Hill, Moyle.