THE Cornish Pirates go into their penultimate game in Pool 6 of the British & Irish Cup on Sunday against Ayr at the Mennaye Field (3pm) knowing that they require only one point to top the group and qualify for the quarter-finals.
Four wins out of four so far in the competition including a 53-10 success in the reverse fixture against the Scottish Premiership champions in October have all but secured their passage to the final eight.
Should Ayr spring a surprise on their first ever visit to the Mennaye the Pirates will still have another opportunity to go through when they travel to Belfast to face Ulster Ravens six days later.
But head coach Ian Davies wants a positive reaction after last weekend's narrow 35-30 Championship defeat at Rotherham (report, page 70).
"We want to win on Sunday and we want to go through the pool unbeaten," he said. "We want to be as high up in the seeding for the next round as we can and while we will rest a couple of sore bodies this isn't the time for squad rotation.
"Chris Morgan is one as he has played a lot of rugby so far this season, unlike last year where he played 300 minutes in the whole year. He's played about 1800 so far this season so he needs a rest."
He added: "Tom Riley is the same and needs a break but at the same time we need to beat an Ayr side who turned Ulster over and may have a few Glasgow players in there so we have to make sure that we finish firstly with a home draw (in the quarter-final) and then with the best seeding we can get.
"Ayr and Ulster next week are both massive games for us and then we can start worrying about London Scottish in the Championship."
Ayr are currently bottom of Pool 6 with just one win from four attempts so far and after travelling to Cornwall conclude their cup adventure for this season with a home game against Jersey, now led by former Pirates assistant coach Harvey Biljon.
They are currently fourth in the Scottish Premiership, seven points behind leaders Gala, and will travel having not played a competitive game since December 21.
Strong links with Glasgow Warriors have allowed them to utilise dual-registered players although the RaboDirect Pro12 side are in action in the Heineken Cup at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
The Pirates are hoping to have fly-half Kieran Hallett and No8 Tom Duncan back in contention for selection this weekend, while youngsters Max Bodilly, Matt Bolwell and John Stevens all featured for Redruth last weekend.
Canada skipper Aaron Carpenter came off the bench at Rotherham for his first club action since October but the Pirates will now lose back row Joel Conlon as he joins the England Under-20 camp for the 6 Nations.
However, James Phillips remains on loan from Exeter Chiefs on a week by week basis until the start of the LV= Cup competition.
Gavin Cattle, Alan Paver, Laurie McGlone, Peter Joyce, James Sandford, Gary Johnson and Tom Channon all remain sidelined.
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, Phillips, Bodilly, Bolwell, Hallett, Duncan.
More Pirates news, page 69.