- Pirates look to banish Old Deer Park demons
- Welsh hoping for three wins in a row on home soil over Cornishmen
London Welsh face the Cornish Pirates on Saturday at Old Deer Park (3pm) for the first time since last season’s Championship semi-final meeting at Mennaye Field.
The Exiles will no doubt have a spot of revenge in mind, but will be even more eager to end a run of three consecutive losses, following Championship defeats to Bristol and Rotherham, and to Bedford in the British & Irish Cup.
Welsh will be particularly keen to wipe out the memory of their last outing at Old Deer Park when they went down 33-25 to the Titans. Head coach Lyn Jones got the response he was looking for at Bristol in front of the live Sky Sports cameras - although not the result thanks to Jack Tovey’s late try.
Jones makes four changes to the Welsh starting line for Saturday’s visit of the Pirates. One of those comes on the wing with James Lewis, who returns from injury to make his first appearance since the Exiles’ home win over Plymouth Albion, coming in for Liam Gibson.
There’s a double change in the front row with Shawn Pittman and Billy Moss coming in for Guillermo Roan and Greg Bateman, while Lee Beach replaces Jon Mills at blindside flanker. Gordon Ross takes over the captain’s armband.
Welsh will be looking to make it three wins in a row over the Pirates on home soil. The Exiles came out on top 23-16 last season at Old Deer Park, thanks to Dom Shabbo’s try and six penalties from Aled Thomas, while in 2009/10 Welsh won 34–10 with Rob Lewis crossing twice and the home side’s other tries coming from Simon Whatling, Shabbo, Errie Claassens and Dorian Williams.
The Pirates have to go back to 2008/09 for the last time they tasted victory at Old Deer Park, when they won 38-23. Over the years the Cornish Pirates and their supporters have always enjoyed their trips to Pagoda-picturesque Old Deer Park, although success on the field has not always been easy to come by.
Pirates welcome back Bentley
For the encounter in West London, the Cornish Pirates welcome back Jonny Bentley from injury, who will be making his second Championship appearance of the season, whilst the USA's international centre Andrew Suniula also gets a starting role after making his debut off the bench last week against Esher.
Skipper scrum-half Gavin Cattle returns to the side, as to the starting line-up do loose-head prop Carl Rimmer and back-rower Blair Cowan, who is named at blind-side flanker.
Saturday's will inevitably be another highly charged game, with it expected that the home team will be especially keen to gain revenge for having lost last season's RFU Championship semi-final 18-10 back at the Mennaye Field.
London Welsh vs. Cornish Pirates, Old Deer Park, KO 3pm.
Edd Thrower; Will Hurrell, Hudson Tonga’uiha*, Simon Whatling, James Lewis; Gordon Ross* ©, Rob Lewis; Shawn Pittman*, Dan George, Billy Moss, Adam Brown, Martin Purdy, Lee Beach, Mike Denbee, Ed Jackson.
Replacements: Saul Nelson/Vili Ma’asi*, Greg Bateman, Matt Corker, Ben Russell, Jack Moates, Alex Davies, Ashley Smith.
* Denotes full international
R. Cook, G. Pointer, D. Locke, A. Suniula, D. Doherty, J. Bentley, G. Cattle (capt), B. Maidment, P. Burgess, B. Cowan, I. Nimmo, M. Myerscough, R. Brits, R. Elloway, C. Rimmer.
Replacements: R. Storer, D. Ward, L. McGlone, C. Morgan, T. Kessell, C. Thomas, S. Hill.