Tricky Friday night clash for faltering Pirates
THE Cornish Pirates face a difficult fixture on Friday night when they travel to the West Midlands to take on Moseley at Billesley Common (7.30pm).
Moseley currently lie in ninth place in the Greene King Championship, but despite going down to league leaders Rotherham Titans in Yorkshire last Saturday are unbeaten at home since late November.
Remarkably, this fixture has ended in a draw in each of the last three seasons and you have to go back to December 2009 for the last Pirates win at Moseley, when Rob Cook's injury time touchline conversion nicked a dramatic 20-19 success.
Without a Championship win since Boxing Day, the Pirates are under pressure to halt a run of recent poor performances and Director of Rugby Ian Davies is well aware of the task ahead of his team.
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"We normally go to Moseley and draw so hopefully we got that out of the way early in the week against Ealing," he said.
"We need to learn lessons about managing our ball much better and building pressure because we didn't do that against Ealing, and in Moseley and London Welsh we have two more massive games to play this month."
But Davies was pleased to see prop Alan Paver return from injury at the weekend and is hoping some more experienced players will be following him from the physio's room shortly. He continued: "We are a group of people who are learning as we go along and we are getting a few people back on the pitch. Laurie McGlone could be back this week and will give us lots of experience whilst Alan Paver came back on Sunday.
"He was nowhere near ready to last a full 80 minutes after a long time out and the heavy ground certainly took it out of him."
Scrum-half Gavin Cattle is nearing a return to action and wing Matt Evans is also just waiting for the green light from the medical team but lock Neale Patrick is a concern after being forced off before half-time in the disappointing 18-all draw against Ealing. With Gary Johnson and James Sandford on the long-term injury list the Pirates are short of cover in the second row although Davies thinks he has a ready made solution for Friday.
"Neale hurt his neck and shoulder and lost all feeling in his arm which was why he had to come off, but we have got Will Graulich on the sidelines who had played well up until London Scottish. By his own admission he had a poor game there and was left out last Sunday so maybe this is his chance to get his shirt back."
Cornish Pirates (from): Fatialofa, Goss, Hendrickson, Holland, James, Jones, Kessell, Moyle, Pope, Riley, Sinclair, Evans; Andrew, Barry, Cahill, Carpenter, Elloway, Graulich, Patrick, Prescott, Stevens, Davies, Cheesman, Dancer, Morgan, Parker, Bodilly, Bolwell, Hallett, Duncan, McGlone, Cattle and Paver
The international rugby headlines may well have featured Newlyn-born former Pirate Jack Nowell as he made his senior England debut in Paris against France, but he wasn't the only ex-Pirate on international duty.
In Glasgow, Scotland A selected Blair Cowan to start at flanker in their 16-16 draw with England Saxons and he was replaced in the second half by Tyrone Holmes who is now back in the UK playing for Glasgow Warriors.
The Saxons started with Dave Ward at hooker and also included Dave Ewers who came on as a late replacement in the back row.