RFU Championship play-offs: Cornish Pirates vs Bristol

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Pressure is on Bristol, says Davies

Cornish Pirates have picked their strongest possible side for their Championship semi-final with Bristol.

Rob Cook, Gavin Cattle, Ceiron Thomas and Sam Hill all return after being rested against Leeds a fortnight ago in their final pool game.

Liam Middleton makes seven changes to his Bristol side that beat Doncaster.

Backs Jack Tovey, Ruki Tipuna and George Watkins come in, as do forwards Henry Vanderglas, Marco Mama, Roy Winters and Mark Irish.

Pirates head coach Ian Davies say the pressure will be on Pool A winners Bristol in Monday's game, as his side are unable to get promoted because their ground does not fit the Premiership criteria.

"They're favourites, we're underdogs," Davies told BBC Spotlight.

"There has to be pressure, not just on the players but the coaching staff as well. They're playing for Premiership contracts and the big fat zeroes they bring and if they lose they're still in the Championship next year."

And despite not being able to reach the top tier, Davies says his side are no less hungry to take the title.

"We only get the chance to win two trophies, the British and Irish Cup and the Championship, and all we've got left for now is the Championship and we're all guns for that."

But the Pirates will face a tough test from Bristol, who have lost just five games all season.

"After winning the league and being the best-performing group in the play-offs, we deserve to be in the semi-final," said head coach Middleton.

"Margins will be tight but we're confident in our game.

"They'll be a real edge of determination from the group and they sense an opportunity to get a win. We'll show full respect to the Cornish Pirates as they're a very accomplished team but our guys are in a good place at the moment."

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