Sunday 4th December 2016
Greene King IPA Championship Rd 11
Mennaye Field Penzance
Richmond came – saw – and conquered - in this first ever encounter with the Pirates, on a blustery afternoon in West Cornwall. In the process, their recent upturn in form would appear to be no fluke – and no doubt several Championship club coaches will now be looking over their shoulders with concern.
No-one who witnessed this gutsy display from the visitors, would begrudge them the five points either – as the Pirates proceeded to progressively fluff their lines.
The pre-match script looked simple enough – notwithstanding that none in the Cornish camp would have approached this fixture with anything less than full focus. Their fine win on the road at Castle Park last weekend in front of the cameras from SKY – and the sequence of results in the rest of the league's Round 11 fixtures - had set the hosts up with a stab at turning around in the 4th play off spot.
A bright start from the Pirates gave hope of this becoming a reality, as they dominated the opening half hour from inside of the Londoners '22' – in all but the points tally.
Laurence May's 3rd minute penalty and returning Canadian international wing, Matt Evans' dot down at the mid point of the first period – didn't reflect sufficiently their overall command. Chances for Evans and Duncan also came and went however – while May's touchline conversion attempt was clearly wind affected.
How we later could look back and see how fortunes in these situations can vary – and ultimately decide a contest!
Richmond must surely have thought similarly as they finally had some territory and possession as the half drew to it's end.
A second penalty for May did though ease out the hosts' advantage to eleven, before the visitors sniffed points.
Fly half Damant's beard had to take a hit from Townsend's clearance, before the Pirates first felt Richmond's quest for glory. A series of penalties gave notice of initial problems for the Cornish defence – which finally cracked, as Allcock was driven over to reduce the gap to six as tea was taken.
Home concerns eased somewhat at the resumption, as Hendrickson's hack through and touchdown five minutes into second period, appeared to be just the confidence boost the Pirates needed. May's second touchline conversion miss – just – even then didn't appear crucial as more Cornish pressure followed straight-away. But points didn't...
Richmond clearly took heart and regained the ascendancy they'd enjoyed just before the break. Pressure increased incrementally – and in a double blow for the hosts – scored two quick fire tries of their own through Davies & Cheeseman, in the space of only four minutes. Full back Kirby ably added the extras – the second from the touchline – from the same spot as May had missed in the first half. Ouch!
Into the final quarter then – and the Pirates did at least respond. Pressure of their own followed and it was replacement hooker, Tom Channon, who restored the Pirates lead. Laurence's touchline attempt for the conversion was good – but not quite good enough. But the four point gap would surely be too much for their opponents who now required a try to win it.
With eventual MoM, Channon, showing how it should be done combine with replacement prop- Andrew's capable assistance on a 35m plus run – this looked increasingly unlikely.
That was until possession was lost and the men from the RAG duly took play back into the Pirates' 22. In a repeat of their earlier successes they ramped up the pressure – and the penalty count – until
Simpson-Hefft gleefully dived into the Clubhouse Corner for his side's bonus point try.
Kirby's touchline conversion could only have rubbed salt into Cornish wounds – even if their losing bonus did end up moving them up a spot.
15 Toby May, 14 Kyle Moyle, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Nicolas De Battista
11 Matt Evans, 10 Laurence May, 9 Stuart Townsend (20 Alex Day 62)
8 Tom Duncan, 100 Alex Cheesman, 6 Jake Parker, 5 Brett Beukeboom
4 Chris Morgan (capt), 3 Tyler Gendall, 2 Rob Elloway (16 Tom Channon 58)
1 Marlen Walker (17 Jack Andrew 58)
18 Edd Pascoe, 19 John Stevens, 21 Will Cargill, 22 Jack Arnott
Tries: Evans (23), Hendrickson (45), Channon (67)
Cons: L. May (68)
Pens: L. May (3,27)
1 J Cunnew, 2 R Grimstone (16 J Phipps 64), 3 R Harden (17 J Tarrant 73), 4 W Warden, 5 M Corker (18 H Edwards 73), 6 A Peters, 7 J Allcock, 8 C Davies, 9 S Stuart, 10 R Damant, 11 H Cheeseman (21 J Woodward 68), 12 R McLean, 13 C Mitchell, 14 J Simpson-Hefft 15 R Kirby
Replacements: un-used 19 J Gibbs, 20 E Coulson, 22 A Lyon
Tries: Allcock (40), Davies (58), Cheeseman (62), Simpson-Hefft (77)
Cons: Kirby (59,63,78)
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU)
Assistants: Brian Ravenhill & Phil Watters
Official No 4: Luis Caviglia
Man Of The Match: Tom Channon