Friday 10th March 2017
British & Irish Cup Quarter Final
Phil Westren's Report
The outcome of this game was natural disappointment for the Cornish Pirates, as under Friday floodlights at Jersey’s Rue des Landes ground they bowed out at the quarter-final stage of this season’s British & Irish Cup.
Having lost 7-5 to Jersey Reds at home in the Championship just five days earlier, the Pirates knew in advance that they would need to get a foothold in the game and strive to get parity or even better if they were to succeed. Sadly, they didn’t, and falling short of hopes and expectations it helped the home side to book a semi-final Cup spot for a second season running.
This game went ahead only after early fog had thankfully lifted to enable the Pirates and the match officials to land on their scheduled flights, and come kick-off conditions were actually all but perfect for the Jersey club to host what was a prestigious occasion in its history.
The Pirates selection showed five changes in their starting XV from the one that ran out against the Reds the previous weekend. In the backs, Bar Bartlett and Nicolas De Battista formed the centre partnership, with Will Cargill slotting in at fly-half. As for the forwards, Jack Andrew was named at tight-head prop in place of his brother Paul, and Brett Beukeboom made a return from international duty with Canada to form a second-row partnership alongside Jake Parker. At scrum-half, Alex Day was about to make his 50th appearance for the club.
Cargill kicked the game off and when the Pirates were all but immediately awarded a penalty he then opened the evening’s scoring with a successful kick at goal.
It was a case of all good thus far for the visitors. However, it also soon became apparent that the Jersey team had a level of confidence to soon strike back. Indeed, in the eighth minute it was a chance for their fly-half, Callum Sheedy, to level matters with his first penalty kick at goal. He did.
It wasn’t long before the Pirates were pressurised into giving a second penalty away, gifting the home side an opportunity to kick down the line to set up a catch drive. The resulting play was well controlled and when the ball was moved wide it enabled wing Nick Scott to cross for an unconverted try.
A second successful penalty from Cargill kept the scoreboard ticking along, as did another from Sheedy, who is dual-registered with Bristol.
Into the second quarter of the match, and it was by now abundantly clear that the Reds had the edge. The Pirates scrum, that has so impressed this season, was put under pressure, and it would lead to referee Mr. Makepeace scampering to the posts to signal a penalty try. Sheedy converted and also landed a penalty just before the break to give the home side a healthy looking 21-6 half-time lead.
The Reds had played with quite considerable energy in front of their enthusiastic supporters, with Sheedy given an armchair ride by his forwards. As for the Pirates, if they had any chance to get back into this match then a positive start to the second half was simply a must. Sadly, such a thought didn’t materialise, as early in the period the Reds registered their third try, scored by scrum-half man-of-the-match Joel Dudley
After making changes off the bench there were hopes that a try would be scored by the Pirates. Beukeboom did his part to secure good line-out ball and set up a catch and drive, and promising forward momentum was created, only for the ball to be frustratingly knocked on.
Entering the last quarter 20 points still separated the sides, so the task for the Pirates was a mighty one, and it even more so when Jersey’s replacement fly-half Lewis Robling made it 29-6. Home supporters were already in celebratory mode, and nobody could blame them, because the end result was now a formality.
On this this night, the Pirates were in too many areas unable to match their opponents. They didn’t give up, however, with replacement Dan Lee keen to make good yardage, and centre Nicolas De Battista always determined at the tackle.
Tongan replacement scrum-half Sami Fisilau scored Jersey’s fourth try of the match, with Robling adding the conversion, but it was the Pirates who had the last say when scoring two consolation tries. Skipper Tom Duncan got the first, and prop Paul Andrew the second. Replacement fly-half Laurence May converted both to give the final outcome a level of respectability.
So, the impressive win for Jersey Reds deservedly takes them to a semi-final place in the Cup, leaving the Pirates to concentrate on their remaining games in the Championship, starting with a tough game next Saturday away against unbeaten league leaders London Irish
Despite the Cornish Pirates being depleted of personnel of late, player-coach Alan Paver made no excuses post the Jersey Reds match. Providing an honest assessment, he commented:
"If you look at the game there was only one winner and deservedly so.
"I felt Jersey came out with a spring in their step and a dominance in the set-piece and they carried that through.
"We just kept going and it was lovely to get those two tries at the end but when you look at the whole 80 minutes we were outplayed."
15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 George Watkins, 13 Jordan Davies, 12 Kuki Ma’afu, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Callum Sheedy (Lewis Robling 55), 9 Joel Dudley (Sami Fisilau 66); 1 Jake Woolmore (Mark Tampin 69), 2 Jack Macfarlane (Nick Selway 64), 3 Simon Kerrod (Jake Armstrong 56), 4 Pierce Phillips, 5 James Voss (Uili Kolo'ofa'l 61), 6 James Freeman (c), 7 Gary Graham (Max Argyle 61), 8 Nick Haining.
15 Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara (Jack Arnott 61), 13 Nicolas De Battista, 12 Bar Bartlett, 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Will Cargill (Laurence May 48), 9 Alex Day (Mike Pope 48); 1 Marlen Walker (Luke Chapman 61), 2 Jack Innard, 3 Jack Andrew (Paul Andrew 29), 4 Jake Parker, 5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Alex Cheesman (Alan Paver 69), 7 John Stevens (Dan Lee h/t), 8 Tom Duncan (c).
Scorers:- Jersey Reds – tries: Scott, penalty try, Dudley, Fisilau; cons: Sheedy, Robling; pens: Sheedy (3), Robling.
Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan, Andrew; cons: Laurence May (2); pens: Cargill (2).
Referee: Jack Makepeace (RFU)