Davies keen for Cornish Pirates to head into league break with Rotherham scalp
With the RFU Championship set to take a short break after this weekend's round of fixtures, the Cornish Pirates will hope to extend their current unbeaten run to five games as they face Rotherham Titans at Penzance's Mennaye Field on Sunday (2pm).
After drawing at Moseley last time out, the Pirates return home, where only Newcastle Falcons have tasted success so far this season, to tackle a Titans side who have yet to win in Penzance.
Their last success in Cornwall came October 2008 when a 32-28 win at Camborne prompted furious public criticism of the team by then head coach Mark Hewitt. Since then the Titans have lost all five of their subsequent visits to the Duchy, including two in Championship play-off clashes.
Rotherham have had problems of their own of late with the sudden resignation of head coach Andre Bester two weeks ago before the findings of an internal disciplinary committee were made public.
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The South African had walked out on the South Yorkshire club before, but this time it seems there is no going back and Lee Blackett has taken temporary charge of a team which has begun the season well.
Blackett oversaw the comfortable 38-20 derby win over Doncaster Knights last weekend and the Pirates will need to be wary of the offensive threat carried by a side renowned for their physical presence around the pitch.
Only Newcastle Falcons and Plymouth Albion have stopped them reaching double figures on the scoreboard this season but, if the Titans have an Achilles heel in the league, it is their away form, having lost three of their four outings from Clifton Lane so far this season.
The Pirates' head coach Ian Davies however is happy with the response from his squad this week in training after their frustration in the West Midlands on a day when the visitors wasted a host of good try-scoring opportunities.
"The mood after that game was certainly one of disappointment but we have worked on clarity and the fact that you only have to score one point more than the opposition to win," he said.
"Our defence is comfortable and we are very difficult to score against but we cannot simplify our game any more."
For the Pirates, the squad is, in the words of Davies, "down to the bare bones", with all their dual-registered players unavailable along with top-try scorer Matt Evans, who starts for Canada against Samoa in the IRB Series at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, tonight.
Gavin Cattle will return to captain the side at scrum-half with Laurie McGlone reverting to pack leader.
Back row Ben Maidment will be fit to play and lock David Lyons has been given a boost with the news that he will not need surgery on a hand problem.
In the front row, prop Ben Prescott is expected to start against his former club with Paul Andrew due to miss out. Kyle Marriott is back in training after a bad hamstring injury and could return to action in early December.
As Rotherham prepare to travel west ,it has been reported that former Exeter Chiefs boss Pete Drewett is among the favourites to take over, along with ex-London Scottish coach Alex Codling. The club's board is hoping to make an appointment before Sunday's game.
In the meantime Lee Blackett will prepare a team which may again be without up to seven first team regulars due to the club's on-going injury problems. Neale Patrick, Barney Maddison, Dan Baines and Latu Makaafi have all been absent recently.
Cornish Pirates (from): Riley, Fatialofa, Hallett, Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Lyons, Johnson, Burgess, B Maidment, Storer, Semmens, Barry, Kessell, Penberthy, Cheesman, Paver, Joyce, McGlone, Mercer, Davies, Cattle, Pointer, Bedford.