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Campaign of highs and lows for Pirates

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

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AFTER a punishing season which started on August 20 last year with a pre-season thumping at the hands of Exeter Chiefs, the Cornish Pirates finally brought the curtain down on their season with defeat in the RFU Championship Final to London Welsh.

They played 40 games in that time winning 24 and losing 12. Curiously there were four draws, a rarity in modern rugby, with three of them coming on the road at London Welsh, Nottingham and Moseley.

Leeds managed to nick a draw at the Mennaye Field but only Bedford Blues and the Welsh in the first leg of the tournament final left Cornwall victorious.

Amidst all the drama and tension of a season in which the Pirates were never out of the headlines the club made it to the semi-final of the British & Irish Cup losing narrowly to eventual runners-up Cross Keys, as well as reaching the Championship Final for the second season in a row.

They battled through an almost unprecedented injury crisis which ruled out key backs Jonny Bentley, Wes Davies, Drew Locke and Darren Daniel for most of the season, and survived a crisis at fly-half when Myles Dorrian came in briefly on loan from Exeter and youngster Aaron Penberthy then made his debut.

Off the field the Stadium plans went on a rollercoaster of highs and lows from the autumn to the current time and with the future uncertain and a superb job offer from the New Zealand Rugby Union on the table, High Performance Manager Chris Stirling bade an emotional farewell to Cornwall and returned home after three years in charge.

Ian Davies stepped up to take over as Head Coach for the final five games with Harvey Biljon becoming his assistant.

After falling at the final hurdle in the quest for silverware Davies reflected on the season gone and looked ahead to a big job to be done during the summer in preparing for the new campaign.

"We played 40 games and trained for 48 weeks and the boys deserve a break. We're back in on July 2nd for pre-season," he said.

"It wasn't a bad season getting to a semi-final and then a final, but we want to be the bride and not the bridesmaid. Hopefully we can build on getting to the Championship final again.

"We have picked up some good recruits and hopefully we can have a few more come through the door to strengthen us because it is that strength in depth with the new format, and top four not top eight going into the play-offs, which will put a lot of pressure on every game.

"We will need quality throughout."

Rhodri McAtee has left the Pirates for Plymouth Albion ending Redruth's hopes of signing him.

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