Having ended 2018 on a high, a 27-nil win at home to London Scottish propelling them up to third in the Championship table, to start the New Year the Cornish Pirates return to action this coming Sunday with an away game against Yorkshire Carnegie (ko 3pm), writes Phil Westren.

The trip to the Emerald Headingley Stadium will inevitably be a tough one, against a rapidly improving side whose Director of Rugby is former Pirates High Performance Manager Chris Stirling. ‘Stirlo’ has been able to considerably strengthen Yorkshire Carnegie in recent weeks and the impact has been obvious.

Indeed, his team finished top of Pool 2 in the Championship Cup and they also climbed off the bottom of the league table last time out with a 30-22 win away to Doncaster Knights.

With two sides having shown good form of recent, supporters should be in for rugby treat, the Cornish Pirates also able to name a starting XV that shows just one change from their last outing. Prop Marlen Walker, a second half replacement against ‘Scottish’, swaps places with Jack Andrew.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s contest, Cornish Pirates’ co-coach Gavin Cattle said: "After a bit of a break, which gave an opportunity to recharge batteries and work on certain areas, we are now keen to push on.

"The task ahead against such a strengthened and improved Yorkshire Carnegie side is a big one but we are both in a rich vein of form and it should be a good game.”

Gavin added: "Chris and I are very good friends and we speak regularly – surprisingly most of the time not on the subject of rugby!"

The Cornish Pirates full selection for Sunday is as follows:

Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Callum Patterson, 11 AJ Cant, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Tyler Gendall, 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Brett Beukeboom (c), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 John Stevens, 8 Tom Duncan.

Replacements: 16 Charlie Gibbings, 17 Jack Andrew, 18 Dan Lee, 19 Matt Bolwell, 20 Jake Ashby, 21 Javier Rojas Alvarez, 22 Matt Evans.

  • Falmouth RFC will hope to bounce back from Saturday’s 40-10 loss at home to Wellington when they travel to Bideford this weekend.

After an encouraging start to the season the Eagles have won just one of their last six games, coming at home to Tiverton last month.

They will fancy their chances against relegation battling Bideford who haven’t fared much better recently, winning two of their last six games, including a remarkable 103-0 win over a heavily-depleted Chard side.

The Eagles won 16-10 when the sides met at the Rec in September, with Alex Tacchi’s try and three Justyn Irons penalties proving to be the difference.

  • Penryn will continue their Tribute Cornwall/Devon promotion and title charge when they visit Topsham on Saturday.

The Borough will be have buoyed by leaders Bude’s 15-6 defeat to Torquay Athletic at the weekend, meaning they sit level with the north Cornwall side and can go top if they better Bude’s result at Lanner.

Penryn beat Topsham – newly promoted from Devon 1 – 28-6 when the sides met at the Memorial Ground in September, with tries from George Jones, Chris Hellier (2) and James Salisbury.