THERE will be a big match atmosphere at the Mennaye Field on Sunday as the Cornish Pirates take on promotion contenders London Welsh in front of the Sky Sports cameras (kick-off 3.45pm).
With the push for play-off places gathering momentum at the top end of the Championship table, it promises to be tense encounter as the Pirates look to end a recent slump, while the Welsh seek to reinforce their place at the top.
Sunday's 47-16 demolition of Rotherham Titans at the Kassam Stadium saw the Exiles run in seven tries and re-take top spot from the Titans who slipped to third.
Just two points separate the top four sides with London Scottish and the Pirates still not yet out of the running in the chasing pack. But last weekend's postponement at Moseley disrupted plans for this fixture in the Cornish camp and Director of Rugby Ian Davies knows that Sunday will be a huge test for the Pirates.
"It's going to be a tough battle and we certainly took a good beating up at their's earlier in the season," he said.
"I think the Plymouth defeat really stung them and they came back and beat a strong Titans team convincingly.
"Missing the game up at Moseley was disappointing and has caused us a bit of disruption. We have got players who need to get back playing and we were going to use the game at Moseley to do that."
Wing Matt Evans and No8 Laurie McGlone were due to return to the side after injury last week with prop Alan Paver also short on match fitness. Back row Matt Bolwell and prop Kieran Davies were also named on the bench after absences and Ian Davies is looking to keep faith with that squad of players.
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, Bodilly, Bolwell, Hallett, Duncan, McGlone, Cattle, Paver.
Recent storm damage to the Jewson's Stand at the Mennaye Field means the Pirates may have to operate a reduced capacity for Sunday's game.
But the construction of a new entertainment marquee, to replace the one devastated by fire last month, has been completed.
The original marquee provided a bar facility and was also used for pre-match hospitality, so its loss caused considerable inconvenience.
The marquee will also be used for the 'An Evening With Bill Beaumont' event on Saturday March 1.
More Pirates news, page 62.