Pirates set for big test of play-off ambitions
THERE is another arduous trek to the North of England in store for the Cornish Pirates on Sunday as they head to Yorkshire and an eagerly anticipated meeting with Leeds at Cross Green, Otley (2.30pm).
The fixture has been relocated due to recent problems with the new pitch at Headingley, but after back to back defeats in the RFU Championship, the Pirates will be looking for a strong response against their rivals for a play-off spot.
Both teams lie one point below Bristol who currently hold the fourth play-off position, with the Pirates fifth in the league table by virtue of the fact that they have won one game more than sixth-placed Leeds.
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Bristol travel to second-placed Bedford Blues on Saturday making the result of their own game even more important for the Cornish side.
Head coach Ian Davies said that losing in Yorkshire would make qualification for the next phase of the league competition tough for his team.
He said: "It will certainly be a game which contributes to the outcome of the play-offs but even if we win there is no certainty that we will be in the final four.
"We then have to play Moseley and Rotherham and Bedford and so on, but if we lose then we will make our own life that much more difficult."
"We have to perform and even though the game is being played at Cross Green and some of their players are probably better suited to the Headingley surface, Leeds will be favourites."
He continued: "They are a good side and well coached by Diccon Edwards who has certainly put his stamp on them. They are stronger than they have been in recent seasons but although they have had a few good results can still be a bit up and down."
Davies was referring to the fact that Leeds scored 50 points against Bristol back in September but then lost recently at bottom of the table Doncaster.
They have played two games to date at Cross Green losing both to Bedford (25-45) and Newcastle Falcons (9-13), but with five of last season's Cornish Pirates squad in their ranks will be keen to avenge October's defeat at the Mennaye Field.
For the Pirates the concerns all revolve around the current hefty batch of injuries and illness. Ian Davies added: "It's not ideal but fortunately we didn't pick up any more significant injuries at Newcastle. The problem we have is that we might only get one full field session before we travel."
Prop Alan Paver (bicep) is definitely out and Gavin Cattle (hip), Grant Pointer (hamstring), Laurie McGlone (head) and Kieran Hallett (knee) are all doubtful.
There is also a question mark over leading try scorer Matt Evans (knee) although James Tyas, Ryan Storer and Tom Bedford should be fit.
Cornish Pirates (from): Riley, Fatialofa, Hallett, Bedford, Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Lyons, B.Maidment, Storer, Semmens, Barry, Kessell, Cheesman, Joyce, Mercer, Davies, Marriott, Tyas, Hambly, Duncan, Evans, Pointer, Johnson, Smith, Penberthy
The Pirates will host Irish provincial side Munster in the British & Irish Cup quarter-final, in a repeat of the 2010 tournament final, when the Pirates won 23-14.
Munster are the current cup holders having beaten Cross Keys in last year's final but did lose an earlier pool fixture against the Pirates at a windswept Clonmel by 10-6.
This season's clash will be at the Mennaye Field on Sunday April 7 (3pm) and home advantage for the Cornish side was confirmed on Sunday when Nottingham beat Llandovery in the remaining Pool 8 tie.
Quarter-Final draw: Bedford Blues v Llanelli; Bristol v Leinster; Cornish Pirates v Munster Newcastle Falcons v Nottingham/
Ivybridge 23 Truro 27
TRURO picked up only their third away Western Counties West win of the season with a storming finish at Ivybridge on Saturday.
The city side looked to be heading for their sixth defeat on the road this season as they trailed 23-13 with ten minutes left.
But the visitors snatched a dramatic victory with two late tries, one of which was converted, to cement their comfortable mid-table place.
Truro had looked in command at half time when they led 10-3 with tries by Will Martin and Mark Lea.
But after the interval the home said struck back scoring 18 unanswered points before Chevvy Reed landed a penalty for Truro.
Another Ivybridge try looked to have ended any hopes of a Truro comeback, but Lea took advantage of some ineffectual tackling to score under the posts, with Reed converting.
And in the final minute some great Truro interplay ended with Jack Tibdall touching down and Reed's simple conversion from in front of the sticks completed a remarkable fight back by Truro who this Saturday travel to play second-placed St Austell.
Newquay Hornets 12, Hayle 16
HAYLE completed a Cornwall & Devon League double over the Hornets with this narrow victory at the Sports Centre on Saturday.
The Lions did just enough to record their fourth consecutive league win which took them up to fourth in the table ahead of Saturday's local derby away to Pirates Amateurs.
Newquay meanwhile came into the game intent on revenge for their 22-19 defeat at Hayle back in October, and looked on course to do so after building up a 12-6 half-time lead.
The Hornets opened the scoring when good work from Liam Freeman created the opening for Perry Hughes to score an unconverted try.
The visitors reduced the deficit to two points when Martin Strick slotted over a penalty attempt, but Newquay soon replied with a good opportunist try by scrum half Connor Riley, with Freeman this time adding the extra two points.
Hayle's fightback began shortly before half-time when Strick landed his second penalty of the afternoon.
And Strick then put the visitors ahead for the first time when he converted his own try, before completing the scoring with a third penalty which wrapped up his side's 10th win of the campaign.
Hayle: D Penrose, J Nicholls, A Strick, P Tonkin, R Spear, D Miles, A Thornton, T Matthews, M Strick, S Harvey, T Daniels, Joel Cameron, N Mitchell, J Chadwick, D Arnull, D Clackworthy, M Rashleigh, R Goodman.
The venues for Cornwall's three County Championship fixtures have been confirmed.
The Duchy start with a trip to Cinderford to face Gloucestershire on Saturday May 4, and then play Kent at Medway RFC in Rochester on Saturday May 11.
Cornwall round off their fixtures at home to reigning champions Hertfordshire at Camborne on Saturday May 18. All 3pm.