THE Cornish Pirates will go into Sunday's game against Nottingham at the Mennaye Field (2pm) looking for a strong response to Friday's heavy defeat at Bedford, writes Dick Straughan.
Not only did the 32-6 thrashing end their hard earned five game unbeaten run, but it was also the Pirates heaviest league defeat since May 2010 when Bristol won 60-15 at Camborne.
Head coach Ian Davies was typically frank in his assessment of the performance. He said: "It was quiet on the bus travelling back to Cornwall and so it should have been because we really let ourselves down.
"It was our first challenge of the season against a big Championship side and we came unstuck."
He added: "There was not a single player in the squad who didn't make an error and that affected us badly. We couldn't get any facets of our own game in order and the forwards for once didn't perform. That put us under pressure and we conceded too many penalties."
Davies agreed that his Pirates squad are now under "huge pressure" to perform this weekend but Nottingham, now coached by former Pirates lock Martin Haag, will pose a "particularly tough challenge".
He said: "There is only one guy in the Nottingham pack who has not played Premiership rugby and in James Arlidge you have an experienced international fly-half.
"Tim Streather has been a stand-out centre in the league for two or three seasons and played for the Championship side recently. Then there is Dave Jackson and the names just keep coming."
The Pirates will be without Aaron Penberthy for around ten weeks as he recovers from a pelvic injury and Davies defended the decision to play the 20 year-old at Bedford.
"We knew Aaron only had forty minutes in him but he had the shirt so we decided he would start the game," he said. "We couldn't risk Kieran (Hallett) starting and getting injured early on knowing that Aaron could only play a limited time."
With Jonny Bentley out until the new year Davies faces a lack of cover for the pivotal number ten role but hopes to be able to select Exeter's Sam Hill and Bath duo JJ Kilmartin and Joe Buckle.
Wes Davies is expected to have overcome a bout of illness in time to play and wing Matt Evans (quad) and flanker Kyle Marriott (hamstring) are both close to full fitness.
Cornish Pirates (from): Kilmartin, Riley, Fatialofa, Hallett, Bedford, Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Lyons, Johnson, Burgess, B Maidment, Storer, Semmens, Barry, Kessell, Cheesman, Paver, Joyce, McGlone, Mercer, Davies, Cattle, Pointer, M.Maidment, Buckle, Hill, Nowell, Yeandle, Marriott, Evans.
The Pirates have confirmed the signing of back-rower James Tyas on dual-registration from Bath.
The 21-year-old has played for Scotland U-20s and also had brief spells last season with both Plymouth Albion and Moseley, making a combined 24 appearances.
Along with JJ Kilmartin and Joe Buckle, Tyas is the third Bath player to be dual-registered with the Pirates, and follows the news that Adam Clayton has been released without making an appearance for the club.
Clayton injured an anterior cruciate knee ligament at the Kinsale Sevens tournament in Ireland last year, and because the cartilage snapped he needed a complete reconstruction, from which he has unfortunately not recovered.
More rugby, page 91.