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Cornish Pirates head coach Davies anticipates new challenge when local rivals visit Mennaye

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

Versatile back Grant Pointer dislocated his shoulder last weekend and will not feature against Plymouth Albion  picture: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

Versatile back Grant Pointer dislocated his shoulder last weekend and will not feature against Plymouth Albion picture: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

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Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies is expecting a new challenge from Plymouth Albion when the sides meet at Mennaye Field on Sunday.

Both Westcountry rivals made winning starts to their respective Championship seasons. The Pirates won 20-6 at newly-promoted Jersey, while Albion overcame Doncaster Knights 27-22.

Davies has been impressed by the progress his opposite number has made since taking over from former director of rugby Pete Drewett last season.

He said: "They had a good win against Doncaster last week and played some good rugby – perhaps more rugby than Plymouth have played in the last few years. It should be a good game.

"It is a derby game in the second day of the season and our first home Championship match. It is a big game when you put all of those things into the melting pot."

Albion have bolstered their squad over the summer and Davies is wary of former Cornish Pirates Lloyd Fairbrother and Rhodri McAtee.

"Albion have got a good sprinkling of Exeter Chiefs players on dual-registration so that helps raise the standard. Lloyd Fairbrother was with us last season so we know about him and what he likes to do at the scrum.

"Rhodri was with the Pirates for a long time and moved on this summer, he will be back on his old stomping ground.

"But exactly the same as we did in Jersey, we have to worry about ourselves.

"[Albion] are very much like a new team now. They are playing differently to how they traditionally play."

The Pirates' trip to St Peter's will be difficult to truly assess until an established order within the Championship appears over the coming months.

However, Davies was delighted to make a winning start, regardless of Pirates' opponents.

He said: "If you'd said to me that we were going to win away from home without conceding a try and score three ourselves, I would have bitten your hand off.

"It was good for us but I think Jersey are only going to get better. It was a double-edged sword for us because we didn't know a lot about them.

"At the same time, they didn't know a lot about the intensity of the Championship and teams will know more about them when they play them.

"It is difficult to gauge games against anybody in this league at the moment. We know Plymouth have changed their style, Doncaster have recruited heavily and so have Rotherham.

"Newcastle have been relegated and so everybody sees them as a Premiership squad playing in the Championship. Leeds have made a lot of changes. Everybody will know a lot more about themselves and the league come the end of September."

One negative aspect of last weekend's clash was a further injury setback. Versatile back Grant Pointer dislocated his shoulder.

It could mean an early return to the squad for Wes Davies, who ruptured his calf muscle last season.

Davies said: "We obviously picked up an injury with Grant Pointer's dislocated shoulder – we could have done without that. We know what we have to do.

"We've got a good squad and we'll see what happens at the weekend.

"There are certain areas of the squad where we are stronger than we have been over the last couple of years but it is a smaller squad – we are not trying to hide that fact. It can cause issues but nothing we cannot deal with."

Cornish Pirates (from): Davies, Bedford, Riley, Fatialofa, Cheeseman, Evans, Hallett, Penberthy, Cattle, Kessell; Andrew, Elloway, Prescott, Storer, Barry, Lyons, Johnson, Marriott, Burgess, Maidment, Semmens, Paver.

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