The Cornish Pirates begin the second half of their Championship campaign with the hardest possible task when they travel to Bristol Rugby tomorrow (7.45pm), writes Phil Westren.

Top dogs Bristol have won all 11 league games played this season, in the process scoring 470 points for and 216 against - giving a huge points difference of 254. As for the sixth-placed Pirates, their record reads 338 points for and 294 against, a points difference of 44.

After two weeks of playing in their respective British & Irish Cup pools, on a return to the Championship campaign both teams will be looking for good performances at Ashton Gate.

The Cornish Pirates are aware that an inevitably tough task lies ahead, however they pushed the unbeaten leaders really close before losing 31-29 when the two teams met at the Mennaye Field in September – the result Bristol Rugby’s tightest yet in the Championship this season.

In a side captained by centre Nicolas De Battista, for the Pirates there are returns to action for wing Alex O’Meara, flanker Alex Cheesman and prop for Marlen Walker, neither of whom featured against Scarlets Premiership Select last Sunday.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s encounter, coach Gavin Cattle has said: “Playing at one of the best stadiums in England, a game like this is one we are very much looking forward to.

“Obviously all the cameras will be there, as Bristol play an attacking brand of rugby that is exciting to watch. It’s a big challenge and something we’ll have to look to nullify, whilst also hoping for a chance to in turn express ourselves in attack.”

The Cornish Pirates full selection for Friday is as follows: Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Pete Laverick, 12 Nicolas De Battista (c), 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Toby Freeman, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Tom Lawday.

Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Jack Andrew, 18 Chris Morgan, 19 Tom Duncan, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Laurence May, 22 Dan Koster.