Pirates need win to get Cup campaign break
The Cornish Pirates will be looking to get their Greene King IPA Championship Cup campaign back on course when they welcome Hartpury to the Mennaye Field tomorrow.
After starting their pool programme with a 22-20 home win over Bedford Blues, they suffered a 64-17 drubbing at Cup favourites London Irish last Sunday to leave them third in their four-team section.
Only the top two clubs in each of the three Pools automatically qualify for the quarter-finals, plus the two best third-placed teams.
So a bonus point win against Hartpury, who have lost both their opening matches – going down 35-7 at home to London Irish and 43-14 away to Bedford Blues – is the order of the day for the Pirates.
The home team’s line-up shows five changes to the one that began the Irish game – four in the backs.
Kyle Moyle comes in for Maliq Holden at full-back, while Callum Patterson returns to partner Rory Parata in the centre, top try scorer Robin Wedlake replaces AJ Cant on the left wing and Alex Day starts at scrumhalf.
The only change in the pack sees Josh Caulfield recalled to the second row in place of Jake Clemson.
There is also a new face on the bench in former Yorkshire Carnegie hooker Charlie Gibbings (21), who was signed late this week as extra cover for the No 2 jersey, with Sam Matavesi away on international duty with Fiji and Dan Frost out with a wrist injury.
The Exeter-born Gibbings is a former Exeter Academy hooker who came up through the junior ranks at Exmouth, played for the Colts there, and has played for Bicton College and the Exeter Chiefs Academy. He has also played for Devon at county level.
Pirates forwards coach Alan Paver said he was looking for a response from his team after the heavy defeat at Irish.
He said: “Ego-wise we took a bit of a dent last week. “Over six weeks of the Cup we endeavour to create a balance so made changes and the guys did extremely well up to half-time.
“With a run of six Cup games it’s a case of trying to get the balance right selection-wise and prepare the best we can, with a response needed at home this weekend to also help us keep moving forward psychologically.”
Hartpury have been boosted but the return of some recently missing players
Back into the starting line-up, following two months out with injury, comes lock forward Joe Quinn, who partners England Under-20s international, James Scott, who is on dualregistration from Worcester Warriors.
Also returning, after missing last week’s outing at Bedford, is back row forward, Tom Pashley, who will skipper the side.
Pirates coach Alan Paver oversees some scrum preparation before the game against London Irish