Cornish Pirates coach Ian Davies wary of 'underachieving' Bristol

Cornish Pirates coach Ian Davies believes 'big-spending' Bristol are underachieving this season.

The Pirates, who currently lie sixth in the Championship table, take on fourth-placed Bristol at the Mennaye on New Year's Day.

"They've spent a lot of money and maybe they should be doing better then they are," Davies told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"We're hoping for a big crowd and a big atmosphere as it's normally a cracking game between Bristol and the Pirates."

Davies added: "They learned their lesson last year, all that matters is the play-off semi-finals and final.

The Cornish Pirates beat Bristol 45-24 in Penzance last season in the first leg of the semi-final play-off, effectively ending their bid to gain promotion to the Premiership.

A change to the Championship format this season means only the top four sides compete in the play-offs as opposed to eight in previous years.

"They can always say they're gearing up for that," Davies continued. "But in reality maybe they're not achieving what they should be.

"If we win it puts us in a stronger position to push for that top-four finish.

"But if Bristol turn us over then they're in the stronger position and I think that's why they've appealed against Jason Hobson's ban to make him available for this game, because they know the importance of this fixture."

Bristol beat the Pirates 29-17 when they met in September but the Cornishmen have only lost once at home this season against promotion favourites Newcastle Falcons.

"They are two good teams for the rugby purists, so hopefully the crowd will come and get entertained."