Saturday 5th November 2016
Greene King IPA Championship Rd 8
Phil Westren's Report
After a somewhat disappointing first half display the Cornish Pirates needed to fight their way back into this match, and they did. At one point 24-3 down, in the space of just six minutes in the second period they conjured up three converted tries to draw level. Indeed, it appeared that victory was suddenly in sight, but it wasn’t to be, their hopes dashed in the 79th minute when Sam Katz kept his cool to land a match-winning penalty.
This game was a tenth versus fifth clash in Round 8 of the Greene King IPA Championship, with both sides naturally keen to achieve victory. The Pirates, who had narrowly lost their last three Championship contests played at St. Peter, were focused on bouncing back from the frustration of defeat against the Titans the previous Saturday, whilst the Reds, who impressed in scoring four tries away to Yorkshire Carnegie, were hoping for a win in front of their home crowd
Pirate ‘Canucks’ Matt Evans and Brett Beukeboom were both unavailable for selection in this match, as they are training with Canada ahead of scheduled November international test matches.
Just ahead of kick-off there was a minute’s applause to honour the memory of Barrie Stead, a stalwart and long-standing member of the Jersey club, who had recently passed away.
After Jersey Reds kicked the game off into the wind, it was the Pirates who would show aggression at the breakdown in the early stages. Wing Alex O’Meara also went close to scoring, only to be denied by a fine tackle.
Although the Reds suffered a pre-match setback when former ‘All Blacks’ centre Regan King pulled up injured, his replacement was quick to make an impression. Lewis Robling was the man promoted off the bench, and sighting a line that saw him run nearly 40 metres, it was his burst that led to a try scored by full-back Ross Adair. Fly-half Brendan Cope added the conversion.
The home side proceeded to play with control, and steadily building up the pressure it was a case of patience rewarded on 16 minutes when registering a second try of the match. Skipper James Freeman was identified as the scorer, the flanker’s effort again converted by Cope.
For the Pirates, fly-half Will Cargill was off target with his first attempt at goal, but he made no mistake when two minutes later a second opportunity came his way. However, the Pirates first points of the afternoon were soon cancelled out, as Cope reciprocated with a converted penalty strike of his own to reopen a 14 points gap.
The error count from the Pirates gifted opportunities to their hosts. Scrum time, in particular, was proving a pressure point, but the Cornish side nonetheless strived to finish the first half strongly, thwarted only by Jersey’s spirited defensive effort.
It was previously mentioned that the last three games between the two sides at St. Peter have been close. Indeed, only two points separated the teams in those three losses, so to be 17-3 down in this one would surely demand a reaction.
Understandably disappointed with their overall first half showing, the Pirates were of course were hoping for a better start to the second forty. It didn’t materialise. On Guy Fawkes Day it was the Reds who were setting St. Peter on fire, soon scoring a third try of the match through the power of their Aussie No. 8 Nick Haining. Cope once again added the conversion.
Now was a real test for the visitors as they strived to make it back into this contest. No. 8 Tom Duncan made a number of strong carries and the chance of further points came when opting for a catch-and-drive from a penalty award. Hooker Tom Channon found his man, and it was the inevitable driving maul that delivered a welcome converted try scored by replacement prop Tyler Gendall.
24-10 then all but immediately became 24-17, as another replacement, flanker Sam Simmonds, lent support to fellow back-rower Dan Lee’s telling surge. Cargill’s conversion from wide made it through the target, albeit off a post, and the Pirates surely had more than a sniff of hope into the last quarter.
ng to maintain their sudden ascendancy, it was a loose pass from the Reds that led to the Pirates drawing level. Wing Kyle Moyle is always alert for an interception, and he gleefully took the chance on offer to race to the line. As if teasing supporters, Cargill’s conversion was again successful off the woodwork.
Early in the second half few could have predicted such a quick turnaround, as 5th November sparkle was now well and truly lighting up this match. The Reds appeared rattled and the sudden test for the Pirates was to show a required killer instinct to nail down what would be a satisfying victory.
A long-range penalty from Cope went wide, and then injured in what had proved a bruising encounter – especially from the Jersey Reds perspective – there was a lengthy delay before he left the field.
With the clock showing 79 minutes, it was a cool Katz who stepped forward for the chance to slot a penalty that would win this encounter, and we know now that he did.
It was a case that the Pirates had shown character to get back into the match, but they were not quite able to take a lead into the finishing straight.
Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates joint Coach Alan Paver commented:
“We managed to fight our way back into the contest, which we needed to. There wasn’t much to say at half-time – our choice was either to capitulate or go out and do something about it.
“It was pleasing that we managed to level matters after being 24-3 down and make it into a nail-biter. However, the real damage was done in the first half and Jersey deserved their victory.”
15 Ross Adair (Sam Katz 49), 14 Jordan Davies, 13 Lewis Robling, 12 George Eastwell (Kieran Hardy 52), 11 George Watkins, 10 Brendan Cope (Uili Kolo’ofa’i 79), 9 Sami Fisilau;1 Marc Thomas (Sean McCarthy 58), 2 Jack Macfarlane (Joe Buckle 58), 3 Simon Kerrod (Jake Armstrong 69), 4 Dave McKern, 5 James Voss, 6 James Freeman (capt), 7 Gary Graham (Max Argyle 62), 8 Nick Haining.
15 Toby May, 14 Kyle Moyle, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Alex Dancer, 11 Alex O’Meara, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day; 1 Paul Andrew (Tyler Gendall 48), 2 Tom Channon (Rob Elloway 69), 3 Jack Andrew, 4 Chris Morgan (capt), 5, Josh Caulfield, 6 Dan Lee (Jake Parker 69), 7 Alex Cheesman (Sam Simmonds 48), 8 Tom Duncan.
Replacements (not used): Mike Pope, Bar Bartlett, Nicolas De Battista.
Jersey Reds – tries: Adair, Freeman, Haining; cons: Cope (3), pens: Cope, Katz. Cornish Pirates – tries: Gendall, Simmonds, Moyle; cons: Cargill (3); pen: Cargill.
Referee: Steve Lee (RFU)