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Rugby: Cornish Pirates coach eyes double over Ulster Ravens

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

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THE Pirates travel to Northern Ireland on Friday night as they conclude their British & Irish Cup Pool 6 fixtures in Belfast against Ulster Ravens at Deramore Park (7.30pm), writes Dick Straughan.

The fixture had originally been billed as a potential qualification decider but the Ravens have again had a poor cup competition winning just twice so far. It was originally scheduled to be played at Ravenhill but was switched to the home of Belfast Harlequins before Christmas.

With qualification to the quarter-final assured for the Pirates following Sunday's 28-21 home win over Ayr, Ian Davies' team will now look to do the double over an Ulster side they beat 34-17 in October.

Davies wants to remain unbeaten in the group qualification stages of the tournament, but with a huge Championship game at London Scottish on January 25 may take the opportunity to rest several players.

He said: "We will have a look at things during the week to see who is available. We have had a bit of a sickness bug in the camp, so a couple of the guys who were due to play against Ayr didn't in the end. They may come back in this weekend.

"Ulster will be smarting after losing to Jersey last weekend and their coach has said that they have got a point to prove against us after what we did to them last time.

"They will be up for it but we want to go through the pool unbeaten and finish as high up the seedings as we can."

The Pirates are still not yet assured of a home quarter final. At the end of the pool stages, the highest ranking club in each of the six pools will be the pool winners, and together with the two best runners-up will all proceed to the quarter-finals.

The rankings are determined in accordance with certain criteria, firstly relating to acquired competition points, and those teams ranked one to four will have home advantage.

The Pirates head Pool Six with 24 points and are also top of the leader board rankings.

Pool Five leaders Bristol (23) are second, ahead of Pool One leaders Leinster A (23) on points difference, with Leeds Carnegie (21), who are presently runners-up in Pool Five, in fourth place.

Davies said: "We go to Ulster not having secured a home quarter-final as we had thought, and this is now a massive game in the context of the remaining fixtures we have this season."

Former Redruth No8 Tom Duncan is expected to start against Ulster with Max Bodilly and Matt Bolwell, who have both been on loan at the Reds, in contention for recalls.

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.

Former Cornish Pirates duo Phil Burgess and Chris Cracknell have both been included in the England sevens squad for the fourth leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Las Vegas later this month.

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