Cornish Pirates v Doncaster Knights: Cooke wary of Pirates’ threat

Paul Cooke (left), pictured talking to Tyson Lewis in training.

Paul Cooke (left), pictured talking to Tyson Lewis in training.

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Paul Cooke knows that Doncaster Knights will have to be at their best if they are to sink Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field this weekend.

“I know they've lost their last couple of games but prior to that they had been on a really good run and they are going to be tough to beat," said Cooke.

“They are a team which has adapted to winter better than most sides and they obviously train down there on a pitch which is notoriously heavy and muddy.

“It will be difficult for us to beat them once let alone twice in a matter of three weeks.

“As everyone connected with the club knows they were a bit of a bogey team for a number of years but we beat them twice in the B&I Cup last season as well as winning down there in the Championship 12 months ago, so we feel we’ve got that particular monkey off our back.”

He added: “The challenge for us, perhaps between December and the end of February, has been to win ugly on the days when the weather conditions are all against open rugby.

“Right now Glen Kenworthy is doing a marvellous job with the forwards who have been winning us a lot of games this season.

“We’ll be looking for them to do the same sort of job against Pirates if conditions are as bad as they usually are down there at this time of the year.

“Obviously going forward, it is important that we continue to adapt to whatever conditions we face as we have done so far this season. We’ve shown that we can play an open game but we’ve also shown that we can mix it up front as well and our driving maul is now up there with the best of them.”

n Knights this week signed full back David McIlwaine until the end of the season.

The 25-year-old, formerly of Ulster, Bristol and Yorkshire Carnegie, returns to Castle Park for a second spell after finishing as the club’s top points scorer in 2011/12.

McIlwaine will combine his university commitments with Knights before joining the club on a full time basis.