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Cornish Pirates' game against Bristol will be subject to a pitch inspection today

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 31, 2012

Mennaye Field took a hammering in Cornish Pirates' last two home games

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Cornish Pirates' Championship game against Bristol in Penzance tomorrow will take place subject to a pitch inspection today.

The Mennaye Field playing surface suffered significant damage during the Pirates' home fixtures with Nottingham and Swansea earlier this month. The recent heavy rain has prevented the pitch from making a full recovery. There will be an inspection at 2pm – but the Pirates are confident the game will go ahead as planned.

A club statement read: "The Pirates feel very confident that the game will go ahead, but with further rain forecast have arranged the pitch inspection to comply with Championship regulations and for common-sense reasons.

"An update will be confirmed on the club's website immediately following the inspection."

Sixth-placed Pirates have targeted fourth place in the Championship table, in order to reach the end-of-season play-offs.

Their opponents, Bristol, currently occupy that position and have ambitions of overhauling the top three.

They remain a massive 23 points adrift of leaders Newcastle, but second-placed Bedford (11 points ahead of them) and third-placed Nottingham (seven) are now in resurgent Bristol's sight.

Bristol beat Doncaster 26-18 in their last game before Christmas to move above Leeds and into fourth place – and victory at the Pirates on New Year's Day would give Liam Middleton's squad another timely confidence boost.

"Over the Christmas period, people can fall off a bit, and we've put a big emphasis on us not being one of those teams," said Bristol full-back Jack Tovey.

"We haven't really put too much emphasis on where we are in the league so far, but now we're up into that fourth spot, which is somewhere we don't want to fall below.

"And now we're up there, we're going to try to push on for third, or even second, place."

Tovey returned from injury in October, and Bristol have won seven of the eight matches in which he has featured since his comeback.

The anomaly was the 63-7 drubbing at Nottingham in November – a result and performance from which Bristol's players appear to have learned vital lessons.

"There have been a few tough times this season and I think it maybe takes a couple of games like that to wake you up and make you realise that it's a very tough league," said Tovey.

"We said before the Doncaster game that we wanted to finish 2012 on a high – and I think we kind of did that.

"They [Doncaster] got a few sloppy tries but they are fighting for their lives, so they were going to go out and try to spoil our play as much as they could.

"On the whole, though, I thought it was a pretty good performance and we could maybe have had a few more points, because we were pretty dominant at the scrum and driving line-out."

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