Cornish Pirates v London Welsh, The RFU Championship
Pirates eye London Welsh scalp
May 22, 2012
It was the Worcester Warriors who celebrated winning the Championship last season - but who will it be this time around? © Getty Images
The Cornish Pirates host London Welsh at their Penzance base on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Championship play-off final.
With the Pirates receiving a blow to their plans of expansion last week with the county council ruling against plans for a new stadium fit for the Premiership, it is only London Welsh who have a chance of promotion. They are also facing an uncertain future with the Rugby Football Union set to decide on their ground share proposals. Oxford's Kassam Stadium is one suggested option but for London Welsh, they will need to put their ambiguous future to one side if they are to overcome the Pirates.
The Pirates - who announced the capture of Wasps back Alex Cheesman on Tuesday - dispatched favourites Bristol in sensational fashion in the semi-finals of the tournament as they won 45-24 at home and then did enough at the Memorial Stadium to come through. And form is on the Pirates' side ahead of the match. They drew 17-17 at Old Deer Park during the regular season and won their home match 27-6.
Key to the Pirates' charge is fullback Rob Cook who spurned advances from the Premiership to re-sign with the side back in April. He starts and has Grant Pointer on the wing alongside David Doherty. Sam Hill and Andrew Suniula form the centre partnerships with Ceiron Thomas at half-back alongside skipper Gavin Cattle. The front-row sees Alan Paver, Dave Ward and Carl Rimmer link up with Ian Nimmo and Laurie McGlone in the engine room. Phil Burgess, Kyle Marriott and Dave Ewers form the back-row.
In their way lies London Welsh who overcame Bedford in the semi-final. Coached by Lyn Jones, they stand a chance of promotion and at the forefront of their charge to the final has been No.8 Ed Jackson. And Jackson has revealed that talk of promotion has handed a timely boost to Welsh.
"We've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about promotion all season but the club have stated their position now and really backed us as a group of players," Jackson told The Rugby Paper. "It gives us a lot of confidence going forward into this final.
"We've got a great incentive because a lot of these boys have played Premiership rugby before or aspire to do so, and to do it with a club that you've worked for all season would be more rewarding."
Jackson starts at No.8 for London Welsh with skipper Jon Mills and Mike Denbee joining him in the back-row. The front five consists of Matt Corker, Adam Brown, James Tideswell, Dan George and Billy Moss. Jack Moates will provide the guidance at scrum-half with Gordon Ross at half-back. Joe Ajuwa starts on the wing with Nick Scott on the opposite flank while James Lewis and Hudson Tonga'uiha are in the centres. Alex Davies starts at fullback.
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