to go 12-0 down with just four minutes on the clock, the Cornish Pirates showed
their mettle and kept their composure to valiantly work their way back in this
Indeed, in a week when the RFU decided that
a 12-team 'Championship' would be introduced next season, it was a game such as
this which confirmed that for Cornish rugby and its supporters, what a great loss
it would surely be if the county went without having a team representing them
at such a prestigious level.
supporters having buoyantly soaked up the pre-match atmosphere, which was one
enhanced by the presence of the inimitable Falmouth Marine Band, when the game
eventually started, what immediately followed seemed somehow surrealistic.
kick-off from Cornish Pirates fly-half Rhys Jones was gathered by Leeds Carnegie's
athletic lock Kearnan Myall, who bounded on a run which saw him stride all of
60 metres plus to score a try at the posts which was converted by fly-half Alberto
Di Bernardo, who, of course, was a former Pirates favourite at the 'Rec'.
Did it all really happen? Could we start again? No, it was real.
an imperfect beginning, what was to follow in just the fourth minute further stunned
when he squeezed in for an unconverted try on the right.
would have been no surprise if the Cornish Pirates were numbed to a man, but their
response showed anything but. Playing with confidence and enterprise, after a
promising build up they soon posted their first points of the afternoon when Jones
slotted a penalty in the eighth minute.
the restart the Pirates again took the play to their opponents, with forwards
and backs controlling possession effectively and forcing Leeds into making errors,
and after Argentinean prop Juan Gomez was yellow-carded, Jones fired over a second
Leeds looked to up their game and took play threateningly
into the Pirates '22', but were foiled by good work on the ground from Pirates
hooker Darren Dawidiuk.
A scrummage was awarded the Cornish
team's way, and the mounting danger was further eased when scrum-half Nicky Griffiths
made yardage on the right.
had a penalty opportunity to extend the visitors lead, but his effort went to
the right. In contrast, however, Jones shortly after made no mistake with a chance
which came his way which he kicked from 40 metres out.
determination now witnessed in the Pirates performance was immense, and a sudden
20 metres dash by Griffiths took him to within inches of the Leeds line. The pressure
applied forced Leeds to to lose their composure once more, it resulting in centre
Rob Vickerman being their second player of the afternoon to be directed to the
sin bin by referee Nick Williams. Jones kicked the resultant penalty and the scores
were now amazingly level.
It was a great fight back by the
Pirates, who had so commendably clawed their way back into the match, but it was
not long before they went behind once more. Firstly, Di Bernardo was on target
with a penalty, and this was followed by a converted try on the left for wing
With the scoreline now reading 12-22, it was
vital that the Pirates dug deep to show their character and score next, which
on the stroke of half-time they thankfully did, when Jones successfully kicked
his fifth penalty of the afternoon.
After the referee's
whistle blew for half-time, the home crowd lifted as one to applaud the Cornish
Pirates team. It was clearly to commend their efforts for having recovered from
a disastrous beginning, and to also help give them the belief that a win was within
Back to action after the break, it was unfortunately
the visitors who initially dominated, with them going further ahead with a penalty
kicked by Di Bernardo.
The Pirates had to withstand a sustained
period of pressure, it one ultimately eased when wing Marika Vakacegu rifled the
ball upfield. Jones was off target with a lengthy penalty attempt, but a break
on the right by full-back Adryan Winnan turned the screw back on their opponents.
superb backs move ended with wing Brian Tuohy being hauled down on the left, but
the Pirates maintained their territorial advantage. From a line-out they drove
with some speed to the Leeds line, it a push ending with a try deservedly scored
by man of the match Dawidiuk.
The conversion missed, but
in terms of winning the game the Pirates were very much in with a 'shout'.
play entering the last quarter, decibels levels suitably rose, as both sides worked
hard to create try-scoring opportunities, all of which were foiled.
Of The Match Darren Dawidiuk |
A sixth penalty
by Jones narrowed the deficit to just two points, but it was to prove the last
score of the afternoon, in a match that had been highly competitive throughout.
As for the Pirates immediate future, it continues to look
much brighter, with there opportunities in the coming weeks for them to further
enhance the view that theirs is a resurgent side that is just getting better and
better. Certainly the bonus point was deserved, it also helping left the Pirates
one place in the league, as they leapfrogged Plymouth Albion into seventh place.
A. Winnan (capt), M. Vakacegu, P. Devlin (M. Ireland 68), T.
Luke (S. Winn 66)
B. Tuohy (R. McAtee 66), R. Jones, N. Griffiths, B. Bedes
(M. Evans 58), I. Motusaga
C. Morgan (S. Betty 51), B. Gulliver, H. Senekal,
S. Heard (D. Seal h/t)
D. Dawidiuk, A. Paver.
Replacement (not used):
L. Hinton (J. Goodridge 75), R. Welding,
R. Vickerman, H. Paul (S. Barrow 67), T. Biggs
A. Di Bernardo, S. Mathie,
R. Oakley, H. Fourie (T. McGee 17-25), C. Clark
K. Myall (J. Pendlebury 63),
E. Lund, J. Gomez (T. McGee 51), R. Rawlinson (capt, P. Nilsen 80), F. Pala'amo
(J. Gomez 70)
Replacement (not used): D. Paul
Yellow cards: Gomez,
Referee: Nick Williams (RFU)
of the match: Darren Dawidiuk