Saturday 20th August
Phil Westren's Report
Playing against Premiership opponents for their second pre-season fixture, this was always going to provide a tough challenge for the Cornish Pirates. However, a look at the scoreline and for those witnessing their display there was much overall to please.
For the Pirates fly-half Will Cargill kicked the game off at the famous Franklin’s Gardens ground, but it was the home side who took an early lead when loose-head prop Alex Waller was over for the game’s opening try. Fly-half Stephen Myler converted. 7-0.
Myler along with England skipper Dylan Hartley were just two players in the Saints squad who had previously faced the Pirates, remembering back to when Northampton spent a season in the old National One in 2007-08.
Pirates’ skipper Chris Morgan had to temporarily depart proceedings with a dislocated finger, which led to an appearance for Brett Beukeboom. It was the Canadian’s first taste of match action since being injured at London Welsh in March, but for the immediate present his return was unfortunately brief – as adjudged to have tackled a Northampton player ‘off the ball’, he was yellow-carded..
The Pirates, with centre Alex Dancer making his 50th appearance for the club, contested the game well in the first quarter, but they then leaked a second score following a good passage of play by the home side. It was Myler – with former ‘Pirate’ Tom Kessell his half-back partner - who was on hand to initially deliver the five points, and with his boot he then added the extra two. 14-0.
Northampton followed up with two more converted tries, the first their third try of the match scored by Hartley and their fourth one by centre Harry Mallinder. 28-0.
Despite being under inevitable pressure the Pirates looked to maintain a positive focus and before half-time commendably created a position from where impressive No. 8 Tom Duncan scored to the right of the posts. It was the least the Cornish side deserved, and Cargill duly converted. 28-7.
Changes were made by the Pirates for the start of the second half and they continued to keep things competitive despite going further behind to a well-taken and try scored by home winger Howard Packman. Making light of the wind, Myler was also once again successful with his conversion, to make it five from five off the tee. 35-7.
For the Saints, as it worked out, points-wise that was it. They would not score again. Indeed, for the remainder of the match there was extra credit due the Pirates, as into the last quarter they were further rewarded with a second try of the match, this time scored by speedy replacement wing Jack Arnott. Another man off the bench, namely Laurence May, converted. 35-14.
And, playing with passion, there was still enough in the tank for the Pirates to register one more try before the end of the game, touched down out wide by replacement flanker Dan Lee. 35-19
Coaches Gavin Cattle and Alan Paver were quite rightly pleased with much of what they had seen, especially considering that Northampton Saints have a squad rich in talent. Gavin commented:
“As expected we were under the cosh a little bit in the first half. However, in the second half our response was good and overall there were clearly a number of pleasing aspects in our performance.”
“We were better defensively in terms of our shape, and as we now move forward it will of course always be important that we identify any area to work and build upon as we strive to keep heading in the right direction.”
15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Harry Mallinder
11 Howard Packman, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell
1 Alex Waller, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 3 Paul Hill, 4 Michael Paterson
5 Jordan Onojaife, 6 Jamie Gibson, 7 Ben Nutley, 8 Teimana Harrison.
Replacements (all used):
Ethan Waller, Matt Beesley, James Fish, Gareth Denman, Adam Parkins
Josh Peters, Nodar Cheishvili, Reece Marshall, Sion Bennett, Nic Groom
Sam Olver, Joseph Green, Fraser Dingwall, Fraser Strachan, George Furbank
15 Toby May, 14 Kyle Moyle, 13 Alex Dancer, 12 Nicolas De Battista
11 Matt Evans, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day
1 Marlen Walker, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Tyler Gendall, 4 Edd Pascoe
5 Chris Morgan (capt), 6 Jake Parker, 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Tom Duncan.
Jack Andrew, Tom Channon, Brett Beukeboom, Josh Caulfield, Dan Lee
John Stevens, Sam Simmonds, Mike Pope, Stuart Townsend, Laurence May
Tom Hendrickson, Bar Bartlett, Alex O’Meara, Jack Arnott.
Yellow card: Beukeboom.
Tries: A. Waller, Myler, Hartley, Mallinder, Packman
Conversions: Myler (5).
Tries: Duncan, Arnott, Lee
Conversions: Cargill, L. May
Referee: Dean Richards (RFU).