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Rugby: Pirates seek home comforts ++ Cornwall build for Championship

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

Chris Morgan made his 150th appearance for the Pirates in last week's defeat at Moseley.

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THE Cornish Pirates face Jersey in the Greene King Championship on Sunday (3pm) as rugby returns to the Mennaye Field for the first time in a month, writes Dick Straughan.

It will be the fourth time the clubs have met this season, having been drawn together in the same British & Irish Cup qualifying pool and the game will also see the return of former Pirates coach Harvey Biljon.

Biljon left the Mennaye Field at the start of the year to take charge of a faltering Jersey side who had plunged towards the foot of the table. Since then they have suffered further defeats against Bristol and Rotherham but last time out claimed a vital win at home against Nottingham.

Jersey come into the game six points clear of bottom club Ealing Trailfinders, who are at home to London Welsh on Saturday, looking for their first ever win against the Pirates on Cornish soil.

And after a string of recent poor performances Director of Rugby Ian Davies knows that his side will have to work very hard on Sunday to keep that run of success going.

"People are saying this is the fourth time we have played Jersey this season but it is the first time we have played Harvey Biljon's Jersey team," he said. "Already he has tweaked certain things there and they will be better for it."

"I said at the start of the season that Jersey are a top six side and they have a lot of experience within their ranks. But they are near the bottom of the table for a reason because they have not performed so far this season."

Davies added: "They will know our weaknesses and are playing with a lot more purpose. Harvey has introduced certain moves and their kick chase game is much better but it is still the same group of players. We need to make sure we put them under pressure and force them to regress to what they were previously."

The immediate problem for the Pirates boss however, will be the number of injuries in the squad after Friday's defeat at Moseley.

Rob Elloway, Alan Paver and Matt Evans are all definitely out, while Laurie McGlone (thigh), Tom Riley (shoulder) and Mike Pope (hamstring) are all struggling to be fit. Centre Alex Dancer has a back strain along with second row Neale Patrick and fellow lock Darren Barry also injured a shoulder on Friday night.

Davies is unlikely to risk Gavin Cattle this weekend as he nears a return to fitness but will also be without prop Peter Joyce (neck). Ben Prescott has returned to Scotland this week for family reasons and on-loan duo Tom Duncan and Rheon James remain with Welsh Premiership side Aberavon for another week.

Cornish Pirates (from): Fatialofa, Goss, Hendrickson, Holland, James, Jones, Kessell, Moyle, Pope, Riley, Sinclair, Andrew, Barry, Cahill, Carpenter, Graulich, Patrick, Prescott, Stevens, Davies, Cheesman, Dancer, Morgan, Parker, Bodilly, Bolwell, Hallett, Duncan, McGlone, Carrick-Smith, Cattle.

After last season's disappointment of losing the Bill Beaumont County Championship final 35-26 to Lancashire at Twickenham, Cornwall are determined to go one better this season in a competition they have not won since 1999, writes Rhod Mitchell.

Under the new coaching team of Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan, who took over from Cornish legend Benji Thomas, an enlarged squad has been selected and last night attended a team building session at the Kingsley Village, Fraddon,

Dawe said: "The 2014 season will be very challenging, with home games in May against North Midlands and then Gloucester, before an away game against Hertfordshire.

"Myself and Ian are looking forward to this competition to try and build on the success this team enjoyed last season."

CRFU president Ken Plummer said: "I am delighted to welcome the new coaching team of Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan, and thank them along with the selectors for their work in the early preparation for the 2014 County Championship campaign."

Chair of selectors Terry Carter added: "Selecting an enlarged squad for the Kingsley Village event has been challenging, but we feel we have a good balance of players with experience and determination to wear the Black and Gold of Cornwall."

A change in the rules of the competition means that Championship players are not eligible for selection, so players like Sam Hocking, and Sam Matavesi cannot be considered.

The Kingsley Village event was designed so that coaches and players could meet informally and discuss in detail the tactics and training plans for the Championship

This will be followed by a number of training sessions in the build-up to the first group game, which takes place on Saturday May 10 against North Midlands at Redruth. Seven days later, Cornwall take on Gloucestershire at Camborne, before travelling to play Hertfordshire on Saturday May 24 for their final match.

The final at Twickenham is on Sunday June 1.

CRFU Chair Denis Preece said: "We hope that the people of Cornwall will once again get behind the team. The support last season was immense and everybody involved with the team was impressed and always said it was like playing with 16 players."

There will be marketing and sponsorship opportunities with the team and matches and any individuals or companies that may be interested are asked to contact Colin Hatch by email, hatch0348@btinternet.com

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