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Uncertainty showing on the pitch

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

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THERE were no excuses offered after this drubbing, and neither should there have been. The Pirates quite simply failed to function as a collective unit and that was clearly a concern for all of them after the game as they trudged dejectedly back to the bus for the long trip home.

If there were any specific tactics for this game then we didn't see them, because the Pirates, apart from a 15 minute spell at the start of the second half, spent most of the game running and tackling without the ball.

Bedford are a good side for sure, but in recent weeks have shown a fallibility which nearly brought about three successive league defeats. Mike Rayer has built a solid squad which plays efficient and exciting rugby.

They quietly strengthened again in pre-season, thus avoiding all the disruption suffered by the Pirates, and have carried on playing at a good consistent level. The level where the Pirates used to be. Everyone at Goldington Road, one of the nicest grounds to watch rugby in England, will still tell you, until you are paralysed by boredom, that they do not want their team to be promoted.

The Blues could operate in the Premiership again and fears that the north London powerbase of Saracens and the Midlands strongholds of Leicester and Northampton would somehow decimate their crowds are, I feel, overstated.

The real fear still seems to be the spectre of their near oblivion in the late 1990s returning to haunt them. A series of ill-conceived takeovers almost cost the club its life, but if Bedford ever seek treatment for this particular phobia they could be much more than perennial Championship bridesmaids.

This season I think they could make the final of the competition and pose the most credible threat I've seen so far to the dominance of Newcastle Falcons. But, with the current thinking at the club, you have to wonder how long they can keep ticking over as a competitive entity which has realised all its ambitions? Meanwhile, back at the Pirates we really do have a team in transition and still with no clear strategy on the way forward for the club, this could continue for several seasons to come.

Everything, it would appear, hinges on whether or not the stadium is ever built. I for one hope that it is, but the doomsday scenario of the project failing to attract the funding it needs and falling by the wayside means massive uncertainty for the long-term future of the Cornish Pirates. That uncertainty at times manifests itself on the pitch.

Until such time as another plan for success is put in place the Pirates, like so many other teams, will have to work hard to remain competitive on the field while staying out of financial trouble off it. Beatings like this one will happen and more players will come and go.

Up at Bedford they are still riding a wave but it won't last forever, and by the time they come to Cornwall for the return game at the end of March, their whole season may well have been clearly defined.

– Dick Straughan

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