1st XV Match Preview V Cornish Pirates (a) Sun 28/09/2014 

By Glyn Barlow

Following last week’s oh so close result against Yorkshire Carnegie Moseley travel down to Cornwall to take on the Pirates at The Mennaye on Sunday.

With both teams yet to secure a win it’s going to be a hard fought match, with both teams looking to kick start their campaigns.

Currently Pirates sit in the unusual position of last place in the league having suffered a heavy away loss at Bristol (45-17). This followed on from a 19-30 home loss to London Scottish and an opening weekend defeat to Moseley’s opponents on Friday Yorkshire Carnegie (18-29). Despite the Cornish defence leaking seven tries last week against Bristol they showed their attacking capabilities in scoring three of their own, including a 60 meter solo try from Kieran Goss.

You have to admit that, like Moseley, the draw for matches in the opening weekends of the season have not been kind to the Cornishmen giving them matches against three of the teams hoping to fight out the play offs at the end of the season. At one time the Pirates would have been one of those teams, but recent seasons have seen a decline in fortunes. Last season the Pirates finished in sixth place, one ahead of Moseley.

A significant change at the club took place earlier this year when Dicky Evans sold the club to a group of shareholders. Evans leadership and financial backing over the last 20 years took the then Penzance & Newlyn club from the Western Counties Leagues to Championship play-off finals in 2011 and 2012 and saw them winning the B&I Cup in 2010.

A key part of the Cornish Pirates vision for the future is their plans for a new “stadium for Cornwall”. Despite difficulties with getting local Council funding for the project the club is still aiming to be in a new ground for the start of the 2016/17 season. On the playing front their stated intent this season is to still make the Championship play-offs and progress in the B&I Cup.

Last season honours were even between Moseley and the Pirates with a home win apiece:

Fri 4th October 2013

Cornish Pirates

28 – 13

Moseley

Fri 7th February 2014

Moseley

28 – 20

Cornish Pirates

Over the summer moths Pirates have, to an extent, focussed their recruitment around local players including back row Dan Lee from Taunton, Cornwall prop Jamal Ford-Robinson, second row Ben Trevaskis from Penryn and a return for Cornish prop Paul Andrews re-joining from Worcester Warriors. The “local” link has also been bolstered by an agreement with their nearest Premiership club Exeter to provide nine players on dual registration and loan.

Casting their net further afield England Counties U20 fly half Bertie Hopkins joins from Guildford and second row Charlie Davey from London Irish Academy. They join key Pirates players such as player/coach Gavin Cattle, Laurie McGlone and their top points scorer from last season Keiran Hallett in a squad that is sure to be competitive.

Moseley will be reflecting on last week as a game they let out of their grasp. Following a close first half they allowed Carnegie an opportunity to open up a lead just after half time, and unfortunately ran out of time and composure to close it down at the end, despite the Yorkshiremen finishing the game with only thirteen on the pitch.

Despite the frustration the team can again take many positives from the match. As with the game at Worcester the previous week they proved they can compete with the bigger budget squads in the league. Caolan Ryan made the most of his first start of the season at fly half with some excellent goal kicking. Scott Tolmie put in another dynamic shift off the bench, including his second try in two games, and must be challenging Adam Caves for the starting hookers jersey. Will Owen continued to grow in stature as a centre, including an excellent line break which deserved a try at the end of it.

This week the team needs to start the game in similar fashion to Friday but keep their foot on the accelerator for eighty minutes. If they can eliminate unnecessary errors, be clinical in their positional kicking and take chances on offer then they can return from the Duchy with both their first win of the season and their first Championship win in Cornwall.