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Cornish Pirates forward Phil Burgess a marked man after hat-trick

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

Cornish Pirates flanker Phil Burgess goes over for one of his three tries in the 53-21 home victory over Rotherham Titans in the Championship on Sunday  PICTURE: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

Cornish Pirates flanker Phil Burgess goes over for one of his three tries in the 53-21 home victory over Rotherham Titans in the Championship on Sunday PICTURE: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

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Cornish Pirates forward Phil Burgess said he is happy to be a marked man in the Championship – if it helps his side reach their potential this season.

The openside flanker scored his first tries of the Championship season with a hat-trick against Rotherham Titans on Sunday.

Such a performance might mean his opportunities for more recede as the Pirates' league rivals target the former Loughborough Student as a man to stop.

However, Burgess, who scored 12 tries in his debut season before crossing the whitewash six times last term, is happy to be "cannon fodder", if it helps his Pirates team-mates.

He said: "It is always good to be a marked man, in a way. If you have a good game, people take notice and you have to use it.

"If I'm being marked up in midfield, it creates holes for other people. We have players with the ability to use that. If I'm cannon fodder, but it creates opportunities for the team, I'm all for that. It is about the team, not myself."

Burgess said some good advice from head coach Ian Davies helped him rediscover his try-scoring touch. He said: "We've worked on our roles and responsibilities. Carrying the ball is one of my strong points and Ian talked to me in the week, along with Ben Maidment and people like that, saying he wants us to get the ball in hand.

"We have been trying to read the play. If we don't need to go to a ruck, we didn't and then we become the next ball carrier. That worked against Rotherham. We got turned over a couple of occasions, but other times we were out in the back line supporting and we were used.

"We have got guys who are very good at carrying the ball and that is what we need to do."

The Pirates' 53-21 win over the Titans was arguably their best performance of the season so far. However, Burgess can still see areas for improvement.

He said: "In patches, it was definitely our best performance yet. We had a relatively light training week and I think that paid dividends.

"Players were out there not relying on other people to make a decision. They were taking control and the rest were buying into it and we were going forward.

"Laurie McGlone and Ben Maidment were carrying the ball so well and they had support. It makes the backs' jobs so much easier if the forwards give them the ball on the front foot.

"We were very good but we leaked a few tries and there were silly penalties coming back again. Things like that are fixable and hopefully we can build on that and get an even better victory next time.

"When we have the ball, we are doing some good things with it."

The Pirates have a week off now, due to the Championship XV fixture against the Maori All Blacks taking place this weekend. Burgess is one of three Pirates selected to take on the tourists at Doncaster's Castle Park on Saturday.

For those staying in Penzance, Burgess believes the rest will do the players some good, with tough games against Bedford Blues and Nottingham to come.

He said: "With our smaller squad that we have got this year, it can be good to rest a few players who have got a few niggles. They will come back from a week off even more refreshed.

"We have got two big games coming up against Bedford and Nottingham and we know we can come back and keep that ball rolling.

"That good performance against Titans means we can come back in, adjust the bits that didn't go that well, and build on it."

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