Sunday 23 September 2012 – 3.00pm
Mennaye Field, Penzance
RFU Championship #4
Relegation isn’t such a bad thing when you have places like Penzance to go to. It’s a place I would imagine few of us have ever thought of going to but they have a very good rugby team and, on and off the pitch, this Sunday should be a cracking day.
I’m really disappointed I can’t go myself, but there’s always the play-offs, hopefully.
Since Cornish Pirates have been runners-up in the Championship for the past two seasons, there is every reason to believe we might face the long trip from England’s northernmost city to one of its very westernmost settlements again come April.
Nine hours-plus and most likely over £100 on the train, if you were wondering.
The Falcons have never met the Pirates before, nor their predecessor clubs Penzance and Newlyn who combined after World War II to form a club named, imaginatively, Penzance & Newlyn.
The Pirates are almost 80 miles from the nearest other professional rugby club, Plymouth Albion, not quite as many as the 103 miles between KP and Headingley in Leeds, though their location at the far western tip of Cornwall does leave them pretty isolated. But we don’t just have geographical remoteness in professional rugby common.
Tom Bedford, who played a few games for the Falcons on a short-term contract last season, is in the Pirates squad, and one of the quirkier members of side is hooker Rob Elloway. Why? Because he has two caps for Germany, no less.
I wish I could find a photo of a German rugby shirt with the Newcastle Brown Ale logo on, so I would know I’m not just imagining that your favourite Geordie tipple and mine used to sponsor them.
Anyway, the Pirates have had a low-key start to the season in some ways, beginning with a 6-20 victory in Jersey in the desirable-away-trip-destination derby, before a 19-17 proper derby win over Plymouth. Last week, the first televised Championship game of the season saw Bristol defeat the Pirates 29-17. Luke Eves was again among the Bristol scorers.
Bedford started all three games on the right wing, having also in the first XV for the pre-season friendlies against Exeter and Newport.
Dean Richards has made an interesting call in the team this week by starting Joel Hodgson at fly-half, the little fella’s first league start, Jimmy Gopperth continuing at the back. Tom Catterick is rewarded for a good display against Doncaster with another start on the wing, and in the absence of Will Welch the side will be captained by Ally Hogg. Welch’s place is taken by Taiasina Tu’ifua. Carlo Del Fava could make a debut on the bench.
Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 James Hudson, 6 Ally Hogg (c), 7 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 8 Richard Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 Carlo del Fava, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Jamie Helleur, 22 Alex Tait.
While this game isn’t live on Sky, Pirates are streaming it on their website for £15 a time, and it’ll be on in the bar at KP for those not going.
This should be a good game against a strong side and if we can get a fourth win, the regular season will be going very well indeed.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)