BIG MATCH PREVIEW

 

by Joe Heaton


Cornish Pirates v Moseley, at Camborne, National League Division 1,
Sunday, October 26th 2008, k.o. 2.30 pm


Cornish Pirates – what a splendid name for a rugby team! Gilbert & Sullivan would be pleased to know that the Pirates of Penzance are still in business! Penzance & Newlyn does not have the same ring about it, but it does at least tell the opposition where they are located.

The club was formed as late as 1945 and is thus one of the youngest teams in National League One. In 2005/06 the Pirates played temporarily at a ground, Kenwyn Hill, in Truro, but the following season they moved to the Recreation Ground in Camborne which now has capacity for 6,000, of which 1,800 spectators can be accommodated in the stand. Throughout, however, the headquarters and training ground of the club has remained in Penzance.

Camborne was the centre of Cornish tin and copper mining and at one time boasted the deepest mine in Britain. Several of the present players are descendants of the tough miners of that era and, as Moseley players know to their cost, are mightily proud of their Celtic heritage.

Penzance is located on the shores of Mount’s Bay, a body of water dominated by the grandeur of St Michael’s Mount, and only ten miles from Lands End. It is Cornwall’s largest and most westerly town with a population of 63,000, not many to sustain a position in National League One. Newlyn is very different. It was a fishing and tin mining village, a few miles round the bay to the south.

The Cornish Pirates squad is a fully professional outfit which is coached now by Mark Hewitt, following the departure of Australian Jim McKay, the previous Director of Rugby. The club’s ambition is to gain promotion to the Premiership and field a full team of Cornishmen in it.

During the summer, however, there was a considerable turnaround of players, involving significant spending. Among many other changes, Gareth Steenson, the Pirates leading points scorer last season, left the club, but Ben Gulliver, the ex Coventry second row forward, is now on board.

The club’s greatest achievement was to win the EDF Energy National Trophy at the end of the 2006-07 season by beating West Country rivals, Exeter Chiefs, 19-16. Since promotion from National League 2 at the end of season 2002-03, P & N have consistently been in the higher ranks of National League One:

2003-04 10th
2004-05 4th
2005-06 3rd
2006-07 5th
2007-08 5th

Last season in the League honours between our two clubs were even with a home win apiece. In December ‘07 Pirates won 15-7, but in April 08 Moseley won 29-20 in a splendid win during an end of season high.

After eight matches played, the relative positions in League One of Moseley and the Pirates are:
P W D…L Pts Position
Penzance and Newlyn 8 3 1….4 17 9th
Moseley 8 3 0 5 16 10th

Close, very close!

Last Saturday the Pirates drew 24-24 at Doncaster, while Moseley lost at Plymouth 17-26. The match at Camborne, however, will be played on Sunday, K.O. 2-30pm.

For the second time in eight days Moseley’s players and support face an even longer drive down into the far west country, knowing that, in their past two matches, their play has deserved better than the final scores would indicate. If Moseley’s drift down the table is to be halted, there is an urgent need to reduce the number of penalties conceded, especially on our own ball, and improve both decision making and concentration. The coaches have a lot to do in a short time. We wish them well.

 

CORNISH PIRATES – Cornish Pirates v Moseley Sunday 26th October
Head coach: Mark Hewitt

Fifth place last season must have been a disappointment for Camborne-based Pirates after another summer of heavy spending. There has again been a considerable turn around in players, including the departure of leading points scorer Gareth Steenson, but Pirates - who now have ex-Cov second row favourite Ben Gulliver on board as well as Brett Davey as backs coach - look to have recruited well and will push for the top three.

In: Nat Saumi (full-back, Plymouth), Richard Bright (full-back, Exmouth), Aisea Havili (winger, Worcester), Marika Vakacegu (winger, Pertemps Bees), Tom Luke (centre, Doncaster), Rhys Jones (fly-half, Sale), Doug Sanft (fly-half, CRL Madrid), Nicky Griffiths (scrum-half, Pertemps Bees), Scott Franklin (prop, Brive), Paul Andrew (prop, Mounts Bay), Ben Gulliver (lock, Plymouth), Michael Burak (lock, Pau), Bertrand Bedes (No,8, Pau), Chris Morgan (flanker, Newbury).

Out: Vunga Lilo (full-back, Bristol), Ali Koko (wing), Nick Buckley (centre, Rotherham), Sam Parsons (centre, Redruth), Gareth Steenson (fly-half, Exeter), Richard Bolt (scrum-half, Exeter), Nathan Kemp (hooker, Jersey), Scott Hobson (lock, Bath), Chris Cracknell (flanker, Exeter), Tim Cowley (No.8, Bourgoin), Stan McKeen (back row, Oxford Univ).
 

 

 

 

 

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