12 January, 2018
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League / Cup
With the opening weekend in January having been deemed a ‘Reserve Weekend’, the Cornish Pirates will kick start 2018 with a return to British & Irish Cup action, and a fixture away to Ulster ‘A’ this Friday.
The match against the Irishmen, to be played at Shaw’s Bridge Sports Association, Belfast (ko 5pm), is an important one, as both teams have to date each won three games and lost one in the competition.
The Pirates are at present top of Pool 5, albeit only on points difference, so a tough game is expected against the second-placed Ulster side who they narrowly beat 23-14 at the Mennaye Field in October.
In a side captained by No. 8 Tom Duncan, Tom Lawday and Josh Caulfield will be his back-row partners on the flanks. Wing Alex O’Meara, centre Harry Strong and lock Brett Beukeboom return to action, whilst recent signing Sam Matavesi, who made a debut appearance off the bench against Jersey Reds on New Year’s Eve, is named at hooker.
Speaking ahead Friday’s encounter, Cornish Pirates’ joint coach Gavin Cattle has said:
It’s always a strong challenge playing Irish teams away as you never know what you are going to get in terms of personnel. One thing for certain, however, is that we will have to be on our mettle defensively. Results in our last two fixtures didn’t work out as we would have hoped but with a week off the boys will be fresh – mentally especially – and ready to go. Set piece is always really important, because if you don’t get a foothold there then it is difficult to function or to capitalise on opportunities that come your way. Having said that, we must also be ready to play with increased tempo when called upon and also not be afraid to play heads up rugby, remembering the boys have scored a lot of points through good attacking play this season.
As previously announced, BBC Radio Cornwall will not be providing live commentary from the game because there is no ISDN line at the ground. However, score updates will be announced on their ‘Drive Time’ programme with Martin Bailie from 5pm.