Pirates out to stretch winning run
IN the first Greene King Championship cross-Tamar derby of the season, Plymouth Albion travel to the Mennaye Field on Boxing Day to take on the Cornish Pirates (3pm).
The Pirates are on a six game unbeaten run at the Mennaye since losing to Leeds in September and will be looking to extend a winning run against Albion on Cornish soil which stretches back seven years.
On December 23 2006 Plymouth won 26-13 at Camborne but it wasn't until 2009 when the fixture became a regular Christmas affair.
The Pirates have won all four of these since then including a narrow 9-5 success at Brickfields a year ago.
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After a bright start to their league season Albion have lost some momentum in recent weeks and although they lie just one league place below the Pirates in seventh, the gap is ten points.
Of their three Championship wins to date none have come at Brickfields. They beat Jersey at Sandy Park in the double-header opening day fixtures and repeated the dose against the same opposition at St Peter. Ealing were beaten at Vallis Way last month.
Albion, coached by former Pirates fly-half James Shanahan, have recently recruited lock Romana Graham on a short-term loan deal from Exeter Chiefs but a similar signing of Fijian international centre Sireli Naqelevuki fell through due to visa issues.
Meanwhile in the Cornish Pirates camp, head coach Ian Davies is looking to build on last weekend's "complete performance" in beating Jersey away in the British & Irish Cup.
The Pirates are unbeaten in their last four outings and as we reach the halfway mark in the regular season fixtures, they could move into a play-off spot if results go their way.
Davies said: "The test for us now is to maintain our momentum.
"We are on a decent run of form and to have a big game at home like this to end the year is special.
"If we beat Plymouth we end the year on a high and could make it into the top four which is a real incentive."
He added: "We have got a few days off before the game which will probably be a good thing.
"A lot of the boys have played a lot of rugby and are creaking a bit."