Cornish rugby preview
By Bill Hooper
The Cornish Pirates play their penultimate home Championship game of the season on Sunday (ko 3pm).
A win for the sixth-placed Pirates would help keep alive their hopes of ultimately making the play-offs, whilst victory for the presently fourth-placed Knights could only benefit their quest to cement a top four finish.
Full-back Toby May will be making his 50th appearance for the Pirates, in a team that shows a number of changes from the one that lost away to London Irish last Saturday. Welcomed back into the starting XV are locally raised dual-registered players Max Bodilly and Tom Hendrickson, who both featured for Exeter Chiefs in their narrow Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat against Leicester last Sunday. Max is selected on the wing and Tom will partner Nicolas De Battista in the centre. Laurence May slots back in at fly-half and included on the bench is lock Josh Caulfield who returns from his time with the England under 20s squad.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Doncaster Knights, Cornish Pirates’ coach Gavin Cattle said. “They are a good team, well established and have been around the top of the league in recent seasons, so we are aware it’s going to be another tough contest and that we mustn’t underestimate the threat posed. Our prep however, has gone well, and having a number of our dual-registered players back provides a boost.
“We have been under pressure of recent, but I have been proud of the boys and if we can return to winning ways then it would be an achievement and great for both them and the club. It would also perhaps keep our chances of making the play-offs alive.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, Kyle Moyle, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 Max Bodilly, 10 Laurence May, 9 Alex Day; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Paul Andrew, 4 Chris Morgan (c), 5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Jake Parker, 7 Dan Lee, 8 Tom Duncan.
Replacements: 16 Jack Andrew, 17 Luke Chapman, 18 Josh Caulfield, 19 John Stevens, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Will Cargill, 22 Jack Arnott.
In National League 2 South, Redruth return to action following a week off and make the long trip to face leaders Bishop’s Stortford, who will be looking to gain revenge for the 24-13 they suffered at the Recreation Ground last November.
Tom Notman comes in on the wing, whilst Sam Parsons and Nielson Webber renew their centre partnership with Joel Matavesi starting at fly-half.
In National League 3 SW, Camborne entertain Bracknell needing a win to keep their play-off hopes alive. At the other end of the table Launceston take on Brixham in a game they must win to have any chance of avoiding successive relegations.
In Tribute Western Counties West both Truro and Wadebridge Camels have two games this weekend.
Truro face second place Cullompton at St Clements Hill in a game they must win to keep alive any outside hopes of a play-off place.
Wadebridge Camels face Crediton who are fighting for their lives in the drop zone.
On Sunday both Wadebridge Camels and Truro face each other in the second semi-final of this season’s Tribute Cornwall Cup (ko 2:30pm). The winners will face St. Austell in the final at Redruth on Easter Monday.
Elsewhere, Bude entertain St. Ives with the North Cornwall side again needing the win to stay ahead of Crediton.
St. Austell are home to Torquay Athletic.
London 2 SW champions London Cornish, dumped out of the Intermediate Cup last weekend, will look to maintain their unbeaten league run when they travel to Winchester.
In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League, Falmouth will be crowned champions should they win at Tavistock.
Meanwhile the battle for the second promotion spot continues, second placed Paignton travel to Pirates Amateurs whilst Saltash, now six points adrift of the Cherries, are at home to Topsham.
Bodmin travel to Tamar Saracens in a game they must win to avoid being pulled into the relegation zone.
Lanner, safe in the knowledge they will be playing at this level next season, are away to Plymouth Argaum, whilst Penryn make the trip to Withycombe.
Tribute Cornwall 1 will see Hayle crowned champions should they win at home to Helston, who have shown some very good form in recent weeks.
The battle for the runners-up spot behind Hayle is hotting up with three sides covered by just four points. Newquay Hornets travel along the coast to St. Agnes, whilst Liskeard-Looe are home to Roseland, Veor travel to Camborne School of Mines.
In Tribute Cornwall 2, leaders Illogan Park have a potentially tricky game at Stithians, whilst second placed Lankelly-Fowey entertain St. Just. Perranporth are at home to Camelford in the other game.
Sunday 26th March 2017
GREENE KING RFU CHAMPIONSHIP
CORNISH PIRATES – DONCASTER KNIGHTS 15:00
TRIBUTE CORNWALL CUP SEMI-FINAL
WADEBRIDGE CAMELS – TRURO 14:30
Saturday 25th March 2017
NATIONAL LEAGUE 2 SOUTH
BISHOP’S STORTFORD – REDRUTH 14:00
NATIONAL LEAGUE 3 SW
CAMBORNE – BRACKNELL 14:30
LAUNCESTON – BRIXHAM 14:30
TRIBUTE WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
BUDE – ST. IVES
St. AUSTELL – TORQUAY ATHLETIC
TRURO – CULLOMPTON
WADEBRIDGE CAMELS – CREDITON
LONDON 2 SW
WINCHESTER – LONDON CORNISH
TRIBUTE CORNWALL & DEVON LEAGUE
PIRATES AMATEURS – PAIGNTON
PLYMOUTH ARGAUM – LANNER
SALTASH – TOPSHAM
TAMAR SARACENS – BODMIN
TAVISTOCK – FALMOUTH
WITHYCOMBE – PENRYN
TRIBUTE CORNWALL 1
CAMBORNE SCHOOL OF MINES – VEOR
HAYLE – HELSTON
LISKEARD-LOOE – ROSELAND
St. AGNES – NEWQUAY HORNETS
TRIBUTE CORNWALL 2
LANKELLY-FOWEY – ST. JUST
PERANPORTH – CAMELFORD
STITHIANS – ILLOGAN PARK
TRIBUTE DUCHY LEAGUE
LAUNCESTON RES – ST AUSTELL RES