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Rugby: Dick Straughan's Cornish Pirates view March 27

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 27, 2014

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ALL eyes will be on Brickfields on Saturday as the Cornish Pirates make the trip across the Tamar for the eagerly awaited Greene King Championship derby against Plymouth Albion (3pm), writes Dick Straughan.

The Pirates beat Plymouth at the Mennaye Field on Boxing Day and have had much the better of recent affairs in Devon with Albion's last home win against the Pirates back in April 2010 when they edged an end of season play-off 19-14.

But Plymouth have had an improved season under the guidance former Pirate James Shanahan and sit seventh in the table – one place and nine points adrift of the Cornish side.

Pirates Director of Rugby Ian Davies doesn't think there is too much between the teams, but believes that the weight of expectation will hang heavily on Plymouth's players.

He said: "The pressure is all on them because James Shanahan has made a big statement that Plymouth want to catch and overtake the Pirates.

"They have not beaten us for a while, but I thought we dogged it out against Nottingham and showed fantastic character.

"Hopefully, the form book will go out of the window this weekend as Albion have been playing well recently and we have not.

"I think they may have kept their powder dry at Rotherham, but we have to play a lot better than we have been doing."

He continued: "If the game is as loose as it was against Nottingham it will be a high scoring affair and Plymouth will want that. They want to be dangerous and throw the ball around because that is how they have played all year."

Davies knows that his squad needs to improve despite beating Nottingham 17-11 on Sunday.

He described the scrummaging in that game as "a mess" and despite criticising the match officials admitted: "We were up against a very good pack and got royally roasted a few times."

He continued: "We have spoken about our ball retention because we are going for offloads and trying to entertain but it is high risk.

The supporters moan and groan a bit when the ball goes on the floor but creating chances and a bit of chaos is the nature of what we are trying to do."

The Pirates boss hopes to have No8 Laurie McGlone back in action for the derby, while wing Mike Pope will undergo a late fitness test on a hamstring problem.

Prop Shane Cahill should be fit after sustaining a bang on the head last weekend. Back row Joel Conlon could return to the Pirates from Exeter Chiefs this week, but the return from injury of newly-appointed player-coach Gavin Cattle is described by Davies as "dependent on the next two results".

Prop Peter Joyce is expected to rejoin Redruth on a short loan deal as he looks to regain match fitness, but young back row duo Joe Atkinson and Matt Bolwell are both struggling with shoulder injuries.

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

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