MOSELEY v CORNISH PIRATES National League Division 1, at Billesley, Saturday, December 9, 2006, KO 3.00 pm (but come for lunch!)

We are particularly pleased to welcome the Cornish Pirates to Billesley on Saturday. It will be the Cornish club’s first visit to Moseley, either as Cornish Pirates or the club from which it was re-branded, Penzance and Newlyn, itself founded in 1945 from an amalgamation of two clubs.

Cup encounter
Moseley and Penzance have, however, met each other in Cornwall, in the third round of the Tetley’s Bitter Cup on 14 November 1999. Although in a higher Division then, Moseley did well in the seething cauldron of Cornish support to defeat Penzance 27-14. In the league game at Camborne in September earlier this season, Cornish Pirates beat Moseley 52-16.

Steady progression
After humble beginnings in league rugby, Penzance and Newlyn progressed from the Cornwall and Devon League to the Western Counties League, to win the reorganised South West Two West. Two seasons later the club won South West One and went into National League Three South in 1999-2000.

Coached by KEVIN MOSELEY, the Welsh international lock who played in the Cup game against Moseley, Penzance and Newlyn won promotion to National Two after being placed second and third and immediately won promotion to National One in 2003-4, taking the place of Moseley. This is the Pirates’ fourth season in National One with a radical improvement through tenth, fourth and third reflecting the extent of the club’s ambitions in League rugby. The club is now coached by the Australian JIM McKAY, who has taken over from KEVIN MOSELEY.

Premiership focus
At an Extraordinary General Meeting in June 2005, the Penzance and Newlyn President, Dicky Evans, put his vision of the future to a large audience and won its support. The spirit of Cornish nationalism was mentioned and Dicky Evans became the ‘Pirate King’. It was agreed that in order to prepare the club for the Premiership, it should be rebranded Cornish Pirates and play its 1st XV matches at Truro, though Mennaye Field would still be used for training purposes, etc.

However, after a season at Truro, these ambitions were thwarted, and the Pirates are now playing at Camborne, a traditional rugby club founded in 1878 and situated at the very heart of Cornish rugby in a former tin mining area. The ultimate aim is to reach the Premiership with eventually an all Cornish born squad representing a part of the country steeped in rugby, but with only the County Championship to express itself. The club has now overtaken Launceston, “the Cornish All Blacks”, and Redruth, “the Reds”, which are both in National Two and the Premiership awaits.

The Pirates website reveals “Our intention is to build the quality of our squad, based on the current players, in order that we can compete without massive changes should we attain Premiership status. We have the first green shoots of the next generation of top Cornish players on our books and in the current squad a backbone that can be developed such that promotion would mean going up and hopefully staying up”.

After losing the leading points scorer last season, TIM BARLOW, to Nottingham and the leading try scorer, RICHARD WELDING, to Leeds Tykes, and lock WILL JAMES to Gloucester, the Pirates have signed the former Italy A fly-half ALBERTO DI BERNARDO from L’Aquila, winger JAMES MOORE, who was the leading points scorer in National One last season, from Coventry and winger LEWIS VINNICOMBE from Redruth.

Other newcomers include centre HENRY BARRATT from NEC Harlequins and lock JAMES INGLIS who represented Harlequins in the English Clubs’ Colts Cup final against Moseley in May 2005. He is a product of the Harlequins Academy run by the former Moseley player COLIN OSBORNE. In addition, Canadian international prop STAN McKEEN from Pacific Pride and props SAM HEARD from Redruth and GRANT ANDERSON from Newcastle have been signed, with centre DUNCAN BELL and flanker CHRIS CRACKNELL from Newbury, centre STEVE WINN from Gwent, full-back ADRYAN WINNAN from Tarbes and who has also played for Saracens in the Premiership and winger JOHNNY HYLTON from Worcester.

Add to these, DUNCAN ROKE, well known to Moseley as a strong running wing / centre from Henley Hawks and Worcester, Samoan international flanker IVA MOTUSAGA, hooker VILIAMI M’A’ASI, locks HEINO SENAKAL and JAMES BEARDSHAW, scrum-half GAVIN CATTLE, ex-Pertemps Bees, winger RHODRI McATEE and No 8 MATT EVANS, all of whom made their mark last season when the Pirates finished third, and the extent of Moseley’s task can clearly be seen.

Point scorers
ALBERTO DI BERNARDO is the Pirates leading points scorer with one hundred and eighty-eight, including thirty-two against Moseley, RHODRI McATEE has scored ten of their fifty-six tries scored to date this season, and GAVIN CATTLE, the captain, has scored six. The club is now lying fourth in National One, four points behind the leaders, Leeds Tykes, and is in a group of five promotion contenders. The Pirates have lost three games, all away, at Leeds, Waterloo and Otley, but have achieved notable away victories at Earth Titans and Doncaster.

Tough passage
Moseley, who suffered another long-term injury at Bedford with Ben Buxton, are up against it at the moment, having suffered consecutive defeats against promotion contenders Doncaster, Plymouth and Earth Titans and last week against Bedford, just below the top five. The injury problem has been acute with the hand injury sustained by ANDY BINNS when the knife slipped while he was cutting the joint at home, a supreme example of Moseley’s bad luck.

Ever hopeful
Moseley has home advantage and with the Pirates having lost away at Waterloo and recently at Otley, well, you never know! Moseley’s commitment has been strong through the many vicissitudes of late and won’t let any Pirates scuttle their ship easily! We do hope our visitors from Cornwall will enjoy their first visit to Billesley. There’s plenty of hospitality in the clubhouse before and after the game. And to the Moseley supporters, thank you for your continued support. This is truly appreciated by the players.

Toy Appeal

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