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My View on the Cornish Pirates: by Dick Straughan

By West Briton  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

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THE Cornish Pirates face Jersey in the Greene King Championship on Sunday (3pm) as rugby returns to the Mennaye Field for the first time in a month.

It will be the fourth time the clubs have met this season having been drawn together in the same British & Irish Cup qualifying pool and the game will also see the return of former Pirates coach Harvey Biljon.

Biljon left the Mennaye Field at the start of the year to take charge of a faltering Jersey side who had plunged towards the foot of the table. Since then they have suffered further defeats against Bristol and Rotherham but last time out claimed a vital win at home against Nottingham.

Jersey come into the game six points clear of bottom club Ealing Trailfinders, who are at home to London Welsh on Saturday, looking for their first ever win against the Pirates on Cornish soil.

The Pirates earned a narrow 28-24 win on the final day of last season and beat them 31-20 when they met at the Mennaye in the Cup in December, scoring two converted tries in injury time to avoid defeat.

And after a string of recent poor performances by his Pirates side Director of Rugby Ian Davies knows that they will have to work very hard on Sunday to keep that run of success going.

"People are saying this is the fourth time we have played Jersey this season but it is the first time we have played Harvey Biljon`s Jersey team," he said. "Already he has tweaked certain things there and they will be better for it."

"I said at the start of the season that Jersey are a top six side and they have a lot of experience within their ranks. But they are near the bottom of the table for a reason because they have not performed so far this season."

Davies added: "They will know our weaknesses and are playing with a lot more purpose. Harvey has introduced certain moves and their kick chase game is much better but it is still the same group of players. We need to make sure we put them under pressure and force them to regress to what they were previously."

The immediate problem for the Pirates boss, however, will be the number of injuries the squad is currently carrying after last Friday's 28-20 defeat at Moseley.

Rob Elloway, Alan Paver and Matt Evans are all definitely out, while Laurie McGlone (thigh), Tom Riley (shoulder) and Mike Pope (hamstring) are all struggling to be fit. Centre Alex Dancer has a back strain along with second row Neale Patrick and fellow lock Darren Barry also injured a shoulder on Friday night.

Davies is unlikely to risk Gavin Cattle this weekend as he nears a return to fitness but will also be without prop Peter Joyce (neck). Ben Prescott has returned to Scotland this week for family reasons and on-loan duo Tom Duncan and Rheon James remain with Welsh Premiership side Aberavon for another week.

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

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