Rugby: Cornish Pirates to take on Saracens
THE City of London awaits the Cornish Pirates this evening as they travel to the Honourable Artillery Company Ground in Finsbury Street EC1 to face Premiership heavyweights Saracens in a prestigious pre-season fixture (6.15pm), writes Dick Straughan.
Having not received the test at Worthing Raiders they would have liked last weekend the Pirates squad will be pushed all the way by Saracens regardless of whatever team they field from their substantial arsenal of internationals.
And Pirates head coach Ian Davies has already received an intimidating message from the London outfit. "They have told us that they don't intend to lose," he said.
Davies added: "They have told us that this is an important game for them and will field a strong team. We have to realise that the step up in intensity will be great and with the greatest of respect to all our other pre-season opponents, this will be the one real fixture and test for us."
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"We tried certain things against Worthing and will try certain things against Saracens, as I am sure they will do against us. We have several players back for the trip to London but otherwise will use the same squad."
Pirates skipper Gavin Cattle will return to action on Thursday night after missing the trip to Sussex, and Exeter Chiefs dual-registered back row Joel Conlon will link up with the Pirates after being on the bench for their win in Wales against the Scarlets.
Redruth's Richard Brown will continue on loan to the Pirates and prop Ben Prescott will also return.
The only slight injury concerns for the Pirates after the win at Worthing are back row duo Joe Atkinson (shoulder) and Kyle Marriott (knee). They will both have fitness tests this week.
Thursday's game is the first formal pre-season outing for Saracens with fellow Championship side Bedford providing their next opposition, before the Premiership title race starts against London Irish at Twickenham on September 7.
The Pirates last played Saracens in an epic Powergen Cup tie at the Mennaye Field in November 2003 when a capacity crowd watched the Pirates give the London-side an early scare before eventually losing 20-30.
Cornish Pirates (from): Davies, Elloway, Maidment, Graulich, Barry, Bolwell, Atkinson, Kessell, Hallett, James, Riley, Tincknell, Bodilly, Prescott, Johnson, Stevens, Cheesman, Parker, Cattle, Jones, Fatialofa, Dancer, Holland, Brown, Pope, Conlon, Marriott, Morgan, Paver, Sinclair, Patrick, Sandford.