Rotherham Titans will offer Cornish Pirates difficult challenge
WITH only four rounds of the RFU Championship season remaining the Cornish Pirates head for South Yorkshire on Saturday and a difficult test against Rotherham Titans at Clifton Lane (3pm).
The Titans lie two places below the Pirates in eighth entering the final phase of the regular season, but following Bristol's surprise loss at Moseley last weekend, the Cornishmen still have an outside chance of climbing into the top four and snatching a play-off place.
Much could be decided this weekend, however, with the Pirates needing to win on the road while also hoping that relegation-threatened Jersey topple Bristol, who this week dismissed their head coach Liam Middleton, while Moseley manage to repeat their success against fourth placed Leeds.
The Pirates have a decent track record at Clifton Lane and won there twice last season in very tense affairs, taking their winning streak at the Titans home to three on the trot.
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Rotherham for their part have had an inconsistent season and head coach Alex Codling will leave the club at the end of the season for what are described as "personal reasons".
But Codling has demanded that his team finishes the season with "real momentum", and will be keen to avenge October's 53-21 defeat at the Mennaye Field.
Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies expects a hard afternoon for his team but stressed that the outcome of the match is very much in the hands of the Pirates.
He said: "It's always tough up there but our recent record at Clifton Lane isn't too bad. That said, we are not the team we have been over the last few years, as I keep pointing out."
He added: "We have got players leaving at the end of the season and so have they, along with their coach. You could question who they are actually playing for and it is difficult to judge how they will come out. So it's really up to us."
The Pirates still have injury problems despite having a week off and Alan Paver is definitely out. There are fitness doubts over Junior Fatialofa (virus), Kyle Marriott (hamstring), Phil Burgess, Laurie McGlone and Paul Andrew.
Andrew is waiting to make his 100th appearance for the Pirates and the club have confirmed that he will join Premiership side Worcester Warriors at the end of the season.
Davies will have a full contingent of Bath dual-registered players to call on, minus Ollie Devoto, and is hopeful that centre Sam Hill will be released by Exeter Chiefs after winning the Six Nations title with the England U20s.
Pirates (from): Riley, Fatialofa, Hallett, Bedford, Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Lyons, Storer, Semmens, Barry, Kessell, Cheesman, Joyce, Mercer, Davies, Marriott, Tyas, Hambly, Duncan, Evans, Pointer, Johnson, Smith, Penberthy, Cook, McGlone, Hill, Kilmartin, Tanner, Davies.