Despite their defeat away to Scarlets Premiership Select on Monday evening, the Cornish Pirates still top Pool 5 on points difference, and will therefore be extra keen to return to winning ways and secure victory in the return leg at home on Sunday (ko 2.30pm), writes Phil Westren.

For what promises to be a Christmas cracker of a contest, the Pirates and their supporters will also welcome the opportunity to applaud Canadian international Matt Evans, who, on his second match since returning from injury, will be making his 100th appearance for the club.

The Cornish Pirates side shows a number personnel changes from the team that was defeated in Wales on Monday evening, including returns to action for full-back.

Toby May, centre Nicolas De Battista, and flanker Rupert Cooper. Player-coach Alan Paver starts at loose-head prop, whilst named on the bench is recent signing Sam Matavesi, along with former Scotland under 20s prop Jack Owlett, who it has been announced today is dual-registered with Exeter Chiefs.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s return leg, Alan Paver has said: “Playing against a much-changed Pirates side, the Scarlets were worthy winners on Monday evening.

“We had a mix of guys looking for an opportunity and others who haven’t played for a long time, so maybe, from a coaching perspective, we should on reflection have kept the core of the squad relatively the same. Perhaps we didn’t give the players the right chance, because when you are in a side like that it is difficult to build partnerships and demonstrate ability.

That said, the effort was there, it was just the cohesion and performance that wasn’t where we needed it to be.

“Without taking anything away from the Scarlets - because they really got stuck in - we have asked for a response from our lads this week, to play with more control and with a bit more fire in the belly, to hopefully see a marked improvement.”

Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Matt Evans, 13 Dan Koster, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Mike Pope; 1 Alan Paver, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Chris Morgan (c), 5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Josh Caulfield, 7

Rupert Cooper, 8 Tom Duncan. Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Jack Owlett, 18 Toby Freeman, 19 Tom

Lawday, 20 Alex Day, 21 Will Cargill, 22 Pete Laverick.

The Pirates have boosted their front row options with the signing of prop forward Jack ‘Owl’ Owlett on dual-registration with Exeter Chiefs.

London-born, the former Scotland under 20s player, now aged 22, was identified to the Chiefs through the club's strong links with the University of Exeter, where he has studied for a degree in Business and Management.

A former Head Boy at Millfield School, Jack was a key performer in Exeter University’s side that lifted the BUCS title at Twickenham in 2016, whilst he has also played for the Chiefs in the Aviva A League and made three first team appearances

for them last season in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Prior to his arrival at the Cornish Pirates, Jack has been dual-registered with Plymouth Albion.