Ten-try Pirates teach students harsh lesson ahead of league curtain raiser
Bath University 7, Cornish Pirates 58
PRE-SEASON ended for the Cornish Pirates with a ten-try victory over Bath University at the city's Recreation Ground in their final warm-up for Sunday's Championship opener against Bristol.
The Cornish side have put their new-look squad through a diverse array of fixtures in their most thorough build-up for a league campaign in three years and will now switch their focus immediately to Sunday at Sandy Park.
The Pirates travelled with a 25-man squad for the fixture on Saturday, which was played over three 30-minute matches and while Bristol, already tipped by many as promotion favourites this season, will pose a completely different challenge to that offered here by the students, Pirates head coach Ian Davies was happy with Saturday's outcome.
He said: "It was about giving game time to people like Laurie McGlone and Gavin Cattle so that they could run around a lot and pick up a big chunk of fitness.
"One of our main objectives was to be involved in a fairly frenetic and fast-paced game without the risk of flaring up injuries or picking up fresh ones due to high levels of physicality.
"Bath University are not the strongest team we could have faced in terms of their team selection and where they are at in pre-season but we knew that and this fixture fulfilled its purpose."
And he added: "The game turned out to be very fast and furious with the students running it from everywhere.
"Everyone had to do a lot of running because there was little kicking and minimal dead time in the game but we scored a couple of really good tries."
Davies is content with the level his squad have attained ahead of their league campaign.
Reflecting on their pre-season programme as a whole he said: "You measure how good your pre-season has been by early results and if they go well you are pleased with what you have done. If they go against you then you think again.
"Our build-up has ticked all the boxes for us and it has been enjoyable, varied but also very hard work for the players and coaching team alike.
"Now we go up against Bristol and Leeds in our first two games who are both tipped to be right up there looking for promotion in May.
"How we do against them will be the measure of where we really are at the moment."
And Davies is unconcerned by the fact that the Cornish Pirates have been largely written off as a threat in the Championship this season by many coaches and pundits alike.
"It takes the pressure off us to a large extent," he said.
"Everyone seems to have forgotten about us but we want to go out there and prove them wrong – that is our motivation.
"There will be wins and there will be losses this season but what we are looking for is a steady improvement from the squad as we progress. That is what we want to see."