Cornish Pirates will travel to Bedford this Sunday keen to achieve glory by toppling respected opponents. The match at Goldington Road, which is being shown live on Sky TV, kicks off at 1.05pm.
In games played between the two teams in Stage One of the RFU Championship, the Pirates lost 32-25 at Bedford in October but won 23-13 at home in January.
At the end of Stage One the clubs who finished in the top eight were placed into two promotion pools of four, the teams in each pool to play six matches (three home and three away). The teams who finished 1st (Worcester), 4th (London Welsh) 5th (Nottingham) and 8th (Bristol) have formed Pool A, and those that finished 2nd (Bedford Blues), 3rd (Cornish Pirates), 6th (Doncaster Knights), and 7th (Rotherham Titans) have formed Pool B. The teams in each pool are ranked one to four, the 1st ranked team in each pool starting the Stage Two play-offs with three points, the 2nd two, the 3rd one and the 4th none.
The Pirates won their Pool B opener 33-25 against Doncaster Knights on Sunday, whilst Bedford Blues underlined their credentials the day before with a superb 58-15 points win away to Rotherham Titans. Both Bedford and the Pirates registered bonus point wins, but it is the Blues who head the table with eight points (the extra ranking point being the difference). The Pirates are on seven, Doncaster Knights have one, and Rotherham none.
In the opening matches played in Pool A, Worcester Warriors won 55-15 at Bristol and London Welsh emerged 48-26 victors at home to Nottingham.
After six pool matches the top two teams from Pools A and B will progress to the semi-final and then the winners to the final. The semi-finals are to be played on the weekend 30th April/1st May, involving 1st Pool A versus 2nd Pool B and 1st Pool B versus 2nd Pool A. This year’s two-legged final is scheduled for Wednesdays 11th and 18th May.
In the relegation play-offs (Pool C) each team carries forward a point for every game won in Stage One, and in the opening round of matches Plymouth Albion beat Moseley 37-17 and Birmingham & Solihull lost 22-30 to Esher. Albion and Esher presently head Pool C with 11 points each, followed by Moseley on five and the Bees on four. After each team has played their six pool matches, the lowest ranked team will be relegated to National Division One.
Cornwall U.20’s ended their campaign for this season with a 41-3 loss to Gloucestershire at Lydney on Sunday. I am sure the boys can build on this season for next year, hopefully they can keep their young coaching duo of Tom Rawlings and Ryan Westren who have brought much enthusiasm to the role this season. Some of the lads will now go on for trials for the England Counties U.20 side.