Strengthened Pirates are striving for repeat performance at Hartpury
Cornish Pirates have made sweeping changes for today’s trip to Hartpury in the Championship Cup – with two internationals maded in their starting line-up in the shape of Sam Matavesi and Nodar Cheishvili.
Matavesi, who has just signed a new deal to remain at the Pirates for the next two seasons, starts at hooker after playing a leading role in helping Fiji to their stunning first win over France last weekend, while Georgia lock Cheishvili will be making his first competitive appearance for the Penzance side.
In all, the Pirates have made eight changes of personnel for the return fixture from the team that beat Hartpury 53-17 at Mennaye Field last Sunday.
Dan Koster and Argentina international Javier Rojas Alvarez, who switches from flyhalf, will form a new centre partnership as Will Cargill returns to the number ten shirt, while Alex Schwarz is back at scrum-half.
In the forwards, Tyler Gendall comes in at prop as James McRae and John Stevens return to the back row. Prop Jack Andrew will captain the side.
After two wins in their opening three games, the Pirates sit second in the pool – five points behind favourites London Irish and three ahead of Bed- ford Blues, with Hartpury bottom without a point. It is a crunch game for the Cornish side, who really need a bonus point victory at the Gillman’s Ground ahead of a potentially decisive trip to Bedford, before their final pool-stage match at home to London Irish on December 15.
Only the top two teams in each of the three pools of four are guaranteed a quarter-final spot, along with the two thirdplaced clubs with the best records.
Despite what was in the end a comfortable victory over Hartpury last week, the Pirates’ co-coach Gavin Cattle is expecting a tough test in Gloucestershire.
He said: “We were bruised when we suffered a hefty loss at London Irish so we expect Hartpury to have similarly looked this week at putting their wrongs right.
“We will have to be on our mettle and aim to put in a good performance to give us a good shout away to Bedford the following week in a hope to progress in the competition.
“Selection-wise, it’s great to have Sam [Matavesi] back. Last weekend’s performance when playing for Fiji in their historic win against France confirmed what a play6ng that confidence back to the team.
“For Nodar, his return from international duty with Georgia also gives him an opportunity to impress.”
Cornish Pirates’ Sam Matavesi lines up for Fiji at Stade de France in Paris last weekend