Photo: RFU Archive
The Cornish Pirates will welcome Bristol to the Mennaye Field on Wednesday for what will be their opening game in the British & Irish Cup competition this season.
It is a clash between previous winners. The Pirates were proudly crowned inaugural winners of the trophy when beating Munster 23-14 in the first ever final which, played at Camborne in May 2010, while Bristol are the present holders following their 17-14 points victory at the Memorial Stadium against Bedford Blues at the end of last season.
In the Championship this season, Bristol have recorded a 38-12 victory away to Doncaster Knights, a 32-13 win at home to London Scottish, before suffering a narrow 12-11 loss away to Leeds Carnegie.
With those reults in mind, they will arrive in Cornwall on Wednesday in fine fettle under the guidance of new head coach Liam Middleton and will obviously be looking for a good start in defence of their title.
Revised format to guarantee two home fixtures
The British & Irish Cup trophy now has a change in format with a cross-pool fixture list which guarantees two home fixtures for each side.
The Pirates are in Pool 1, along with Ayr, Moseley and Neath, but their other games in the competition, besides Wednesday's against Bristol, will be played at Plymouth Albion on Wednesday, October 12, against Munster away on Friday, November 11 and against Cross Keys at home on Sunday, December 18. All of these teams are in Pool B.
After the pool stages, six pool winners, plus the two best runners-up, progress to the quarter-finals, to be played on the weekend of January 21. The teams are then seeded, based on pool performance, with the top four enjoying home advantage. The semi-finals are pencilled in for the weekend of April 7 and the final for the weekend of Saturday, April 28.
For Wednesday's opener, the Pirates have selected Kieron Lewitt at full back, who plays for the Cornish All Blacks. Championship clubs are able to play up to 10 players in this season's British & Irish Cup who are registered for league rugby with clubs at Level 3 or below. Kieron, who attended Colston's Collegiate School in Bristol, has represented England at a number of age groups and has also in the past played for Bath and for Canterbury.
K. Lewitt, R. McAtee, R. Westren, S. Hill, W. Davies, R. Cook, T. Kessell, K. Marriott (capt), C. Walker-Blair, D. Ewers, M. Myerscough, M. Smith, L. Fairbrother, T. Cowan-Dickie, R. Storer.
Replacements: C. Rimmer, D. Ward, P. Andrew, L. McGlone, B. Maidment, G. Cattle, T. Cooper.
Referee: Luke Pearce. Assistants: Shane Lewis & Andy Bickle
Match Day Sponsor: The Leadbitter Group