Sunday February 26th 2017
Greene King IPA Championship Rd 17
Mennaye Field Penzance
After last weekend's rampage in Yorkshire, the loss of three key forwards – Cheesman, Beukeboom & skipper Morgan in the lead up to the Titans' visit to Cornwall – raised more than just a few frowning eyebrows in the Pirates camp.
The home bench split of 5 to 2 in favour of backs rather than forwards, would normally cause consternation too, as the size of the Cornish squad also drew attention in pre match conversations.
Step up centre Bar Bartlett just before the break – as hooker Channon departed the field for a head examination (it's still there on his shoulders btw!) - to try his hand at this back row mularky. Given his industry and big hits from his release from the traps – he's pretty much got it licked.
Enter also eventual MoM, John Stevens for a performance that confirms his growing maturity at this level. That one hand take at the end - that set the Pirates on their way for a sequence of plays for 'Maulmeister' de Battista's bonus point try at the death – on it's own was confirmation. That and a try of his own on the stroke of half time.
In short – this young and vibrant collection of players have now proved beyond doubt, their overall willingness to work for each other under any circumstance – and gain results in the process, that gives their play off credentials real substance.
Conditions didn't aid the cause – as Ewan's arrival became apparent as kick off approached. By the turnaround and the series of squalls that came with it – the Pirates'chances of following up an assured first half with the elements now in their faces, may have appeared shaky.
Duncan's 10th minute try and May L's astute touchline conversion and penalty five minutes later had set things in motion, despite a misfiring lineout. Though this was understandable, given the wind and the absence of the host's gurus in this set piece.
Rotherham were though able to respond and closed the gap back to five sharpish – as Calladine benefitted from a swift catch & drive of their own at the start of the second quarter.
Sadly for them – this was to be their high water mark – and hopes of repeating their success at home earlier in the season seemed distant. More so as the Pirates nailed their second mauled try on the half hour – hooker Channon emerging from the pile of bodies with a grin shining through an otherwise muddied mush.
Tom though departed proceedings soon after, following a huge collision that left him prostrate and carefree of the deteriorating weather.
It mattered little ultimately. The second half became attritional as the ground became shrouded by the conditions and was mainly played in the Rotherham half, as the visitors struggled to assert any authority. Cornish defence played it's part as the boys in red,black & white threw themselves into their task with abandon.
Time ticked on however and chances of securing a vital bonus point seemed to be slipping away. But then with the weather momentarily easing off and joint head coach and scrummaging professor 'Paves' now on the pitch – accompanied by raucous support from the stands – maybe one last chance would present itself.
The script couldn't have been better written therefore, as Stevens' hand plucked the egg from the gloom and Nicholas did the rest.
15 Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Tom Hendrickson (22 Max Bodilly 76), 12 Nicolas De Battista , 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May (21 Will Cargill 77), 9 Alex Day (20 Mike Pope 76), 1 Marlen Walker (18 Alan Paver 70), 2 Tom Channon (19 Bar Bartlett 39)(17 Jack Andrew 58-67), 3 Paul Andrew (17 Jack Andrew 67), 4 Jake Parker, 5 Dan Lee, 6 Jack Innard, 7 John Stevens, 8 Tom Duncan (capt).
Replacements: un-used 16 Jack Arnott
Tries: Duncan (10), Channon (30), Stevens (40), di Battista (80)
Cons: May L. (11,31,40), Cargill (80)
Pens: May L. (16,52)
Yellow: Paul Andrew (57-67)
15 Will Goodwin (22 Caolan Ryan 58), 14 Will Thomas, 13 Callum Wilson, 12 Will Owen (Capt.), 11 Tom Collins, 10 Lee Millar (21 Matt Walsh 71), 9 Connor Murphy, 1 Toby Williams (17 Tom Williams 70), 2 Luke Cole (16 Santi Socino 60), 3 Joe Rees (18 Ian Williams 65), 4 Miles Normandale (19 Darren Oliver 75), 5 Oli Curry, 6 Tom Calladine, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Lewis Ludlam (20 Buster Lawrence 75)
Replacements: all used
Try: Calladine (24)
AR1: Ian Bibey
AR2: Brian Ravenhill
No.4: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assessor: Sam Collins
Man of Match: John Stevens