Pirates name strong squad for semi-final first leg at The Mennaye
Head coach Ian Davies has named a strong Cornish Pirates squad for Monday's massive RFU Championship semi-final first leg against Bristol at the Mennaye Field (kick-off 12.05pm), writes Dick Straughan.
The Pirates have won their last three home meetings with the West Country side including two this season in the league and cup. But Liam Middleton's side negotiated the play-offs unbeaten and remain the favourites to win promotion to the Premiership this season.
After a week off the Pirates squad returned to training on Monday and have received a major boost with the news that lock Ian Nimmo, arguably their player of the season, will return to action this weekend after a month out with a broken finger.
He will partner Laurie McGlone in the second row behind a strong front row of Carl Rimmer, Dave Ward and Alan Paver. Flankers Chris Morgan and Phil Burgess return to a formidable back row with Ben Maidment at Number 8.
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In the backs Gavin Cattle leads the side from scrum-half with the experienced Ceiron Thomas preferred at ten. Top try-scorer David Doherty and Grant Pointer are on the wings with Rob Cook at full-back.
Centre Sam Hill, South Africa-bound this summer with England Under-20, and USA international Andrew Suniula complete the midfield.
The bench comprises a five-two split in favour of the forwards including former Plymouth Albion duo Kyle Marriott and Tom Kessell.
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Hill, Suniula, D.Doherty, Thomas, Cattle (capt); Rimmer, Ward, Paver, McGlone, Nimmo, Morgan, Burgess, Maidment.
Replacements: Storer, Elloway, Brits, Ewers, Marriott, Kessell, Evans.
Former Cornish Pirates lock Scott Hobson has been forced to retire from the game due to a persistent shoulder injury at the age of 24.
Hobson made a total of 28 appearances for the club following his league debut against Otley in August 2006 before moving on to Bath two years later. He last played for the Premiership side in a pre-season game against French side Aix-en-Provence in 2010.
He made a total of eight first team appearances for the Premiership side and is now considering a career in coaching.