A home game against the Championship’s bottom side, Ealing Trailfinders, might seem ideal for Cornish Pirates, but their director of rugby Ian Davies is taking nothing for granted.
Davies admits his men have been below their best for some time – the excellent British and Irish Cup win over Jersey was their only success in January.
If they are to reassert themselves in the race for a top-four spot in the Championship, the Pirates need a quick return to top form. “We’re disappointed with how we played since the back end of November, if we’re honest,” Davies said.
“We had a decent performance over in Jersey in the Cup but, other than that, we have not performed.
“We have always understood that it is a bit of a roller coaster this season but, at the same time, we have set ourselves standards and we have fallen below them a little bit.”
Ealing are still making up for a poor start to the season, they lost their first 11 games, but they have won away at both Jersey and Nottingham as well as beating Moseley in the Cup since late November.
Davies is expecting a tougher game than their 31-17 win in September.
“Everyone perceives the game against Ealing to be an easy one, but those guys are fighting for their lives,” said Davies. “We will go into the game taking nothing for granted.
“If you watch the DVDs of them, they certainly play and have picked up two wins away from home.
“It just shows they are not worried about coming away from home. They are very much an attack-orientated team. They do kick a fair bit of ball, but that will be because they have pace in their back line.
“We played them early on, it was their first home game at Championship level and now they are up to speed. They know what it takes to win and are a dangerous animal.
“We fully appreciate the fact they play for 80 minutes because they did that back in September. We have to make sure we control the field and possession to allow us to play our game.”
Pirates also still have plenty to play for as a critical stage in the season approaches. Davies said: “The recent defeat to London Scottish has made top four difficult but not impossible for us. If we can pick up three wins in the next three games, we’ll be back in the mix.
“That’s the context for the league and then we’ve got the British and Irish Cup quarter-final at home against Pontypridd, and that will be a challenge because they are a very good team.
“We still have Jersey coming to us, we have to go away to Bristol, a potential semi-final of the Cup – we have plenty to play for.”
Fortunately, experienced reinforcements are set to reappear for the Pirates imminently. Davies said: “Alan Paver, Laurie McGlone, Gavin Cattle all could be involved this weekend, and are probably going to involved against Moseley next week.
“Gary Johnson is going to be out for a little bit longer, which is a blow for us. With him and James Sandford out, it means we are down to three second rows. The workload on those guys is quite big.”