Rugby: Jersey v Cornish Pirates preview December 12
THE Cornish Pirates travel to Jersey for the second time this season on Saturday as they face the Islanders in a crucial British & Irish Cup tie at St Peter (3pm kick-off).
A bonus point victory in the match could see the Pirates qualify as winners of Pool 6 with two games still to play and they will be in confident mood after beating Jersey at the Mennaye Field last Saturday.
Jersey were on the verge of springing a shock as they took the lead four minutes from the end of a hard fought game, before stoppage time tries from Matt Evans and Darren Barry secured a third win in the group for the Cornish team.
The Pirates are now the only team with maximum points at this stage of the competition and go into this weekend's game with a nine point lead over Jersey, who sit second.
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In the other Pool 6 tie to be played this weekend Ulster Ravens will look to exact revenge on Ayr who sensationally beat them at Millbrae.
Defeat for the Pirates in Jersey would still leave them as favourites to reach the quarter-final but would mean that they would probably have to wait to secure their place when the Scottish Premiership side visits the Mennaye Field next month.
However despite the strong position his team is in, Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies is taking nothing for granted after being left largely unsatisfied despite the win over Jersey last time out.
Davies praised the character shown by the Pirates in fighting back to win but having watched them concede two penalty tries and struggle at times against a big Jersey pack knows that his team can expect another dose of the same medicine.
He also warned about the importance of refereeing the scrum strictly and said: "The crowd don't want endless re-sets but after doing a review of last Saturday's game there was not a single stationary scrum in the game.
"There wasn't a lot we could do about it in the end because the scrum just wasn't policed."
Davies continued: "Jersey may bring back some experienced first teamers for this game such as Ben Maidment, Grant Pointer and Dai Bishop although they can take a lot of positives from the game at the Mennaye.
"It's their last home game before Christmas and they might look to maximize the feel good factor before their big Championship game at Moseley.
"Either way, there are a lot of aspects for them to consider and some difficult calls for Steve Boden to make."
The Pirates will definitely be without dual-registered back row Joel Conlon who will be away with the England Under-20 squad and Davies played down the importance to trying to secure qualification from the pool this weekend.
He said: "We have been here before. This isn't new. We haven't performed in two games against Jersey this season so Saturday is first and foremost about the performance. Then we will look to win and try, if we can, to get the bonus point."
First reports on www.cornishman.co.uk