Cornish Pirates 23 Munster 14

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Cornish Pirates 23 Munster 14

British & Irish Cup Final
Sunday 16th May 2010

Woll's Match Report

Cup Finals have this irritating tendancy to be an anti-climax to anyone but the partisan observer; no doubt as the occasion can so often overwhelm.

Not this one; as both Munster and the Cornish Pirates put on a show that hopefully will have kept the audience on SKY, gripped and more than curious of the game outside of the top flight.

Inspired by the mercurial Ward who was everywhere and always, it was the Pirates who edged it with a performance that ignored any temptation to stifle and play the game by numbers.

The two try to one scoring differential suggested such too. And how!

Fittingly, it was who other than The Falmouth Marine Band who did their obligatory bit to stir up the troops on the terraces; as if that was needed on an occasion such as this! On the flip side, there was a healthy contingent of Munster support who'd battled the volcanic ash disruption; and Camborne's hostelries to get to the game!

The waiting; talking and pub debates finally had nowhere further to go, as Cattle lead his men with gymnastic accompaniment, to as full a house as the Rec has witnessed under Pirates tenure to date. Which includes the visits of Leicester and Northampton.

It was Cusack though who almost drew first blood within the opening four minutes; with a couple of penalty attempts that just missed first the left; and then the right uprights.

The Pirates though responded well enough as the first sniff of a gap presented itself to Bentley, who’s progress was halted abruptly and rather high. The ensuing dab from the tee by the (same) Kiwi, forty odd metres out had the legs, but not quite the direction. Amazingly then, three attempts at goal in the opening eight minutes produced nil point.

Munster’s quality continued to bubble and it was they who produced the nearest thing to a score with a goal line maul that who else (?) but Ward, disrupted and turned over as only he can to clear the danger. Albeit momentarily until a fine break by Jackson down the left finally did the job.

Man Of The Match Dave Ward
Man Of The Match Dave Ward

Then pandemonium as Winn broke the deadlock on the quarter hour mark after a sustained period of controlled Pirates possession. Rhoddri who had acres of space on the right will probably forgive the departing Welshman for his cheek. Bentley’s simple conversion in front did the rest. A rare and notable incursion of the Munstermen’s goal area in this competition. 7-0

The Irish boys typically responded straightaway as Cusack at last found his length and line with a penalty three minutes later. 7-3

Unfazed; the hosts maintained their adventurous tempo and not unsurprisingly came away with further deserved reward, as Bentley nailed the uprights once again, as the team in red strayed offside. 10-3

Any dreams of running away with it were though put firmly on hold, as the visitors came straight back. Their pack imposed themselves powerfully deep in the Pirates 22 and something had to give. Cusack was soon in the firing line again with his simplest chance of points yet. 10-6

In a contest that now took on a ‘anything you can do’ context, it was the Cornishmen who took play back up to the other end. Jackson so nearly took a searching pass wide left. And his misfortune was followed quick time by some bruising forward play by McGlone and Cowan to soften up their opposite numbers and earn a central 5m attacking scrum five minutes before half time.

Cowan fancied a shout but when his way was blocked it was down to Cattle and Davies to set up the most popular try of the season for McAtee wide out on the right. Bentley’s touchline conversion had the fans bouncing and the dreams started to become more believable. 17-6

There was still time for more, as Bentley started to pot goals for fun with a second punt five minutes from the break, as a defender refused to roll away from the tackle area. 20-6

Elloway's moment of glory came and went though as Mr Hodges brought a pulsating half to it's natural conclusion. The rest of us were probably grateful of the breather.

Another score would be crucial as Munster introduced Dave Ryan fresh from his twenty minutes last night against Leinster in the Magners Play Off semi after the break. Indeed it was that man Cusack again who drew first blood of the new period to reduce the deficit back to eleven. 20-9

The Pirates though were quickly back into their stride and but for some butter fingers by Cattle and Cowan, who knows what could have followed at the right time. At this point it mattered not as the Cornishmen continued to strive for domination.

Munster would not lie down though, and why should they? Scanlon made the first telling incursion of the half for his team, only to be bundled in to touch by Jackson when a 3 on 2 screamed to be 'on'. Was the writing on the wall?

The Irish pack stepped up to try their hand too, but the Pirates resistance when called upon was as fierce as you'd want. This served to encouragingly disrupt any pattern or structure that Munster required.

Bentley's delicious third penalty strikeConsequently as the game moved into it's final quarter, it was the home side who were able to apply the screwdriver that bit further. Despite Paves' exhibitionism!

Bentley's delicious third penalty strike from 35m was the prize, and a two converted tries lead was regained. 23-9

Ten minutes further on and not much had changed as Munster probed and prodded, while the Western Men continued to look for the expansive route. Without any telling success it has to be said, but with the Pirates clearly at match point.

At set piece time the Pirates were crucially in command which, with Munster having little option but to kick for the corner when offered. That particular worry was quickly crushed as Betty and Ward stamped out that nonsense and turned over efficiently.

The visitors surely now knew that the trophy was not heading home with them, whenever that may be. Play headed back to Irish territory and despite no clear cut moment, the clock continued with it's relentless quest to reach it's target.

Pick and go became the order of the day and who cared? O'Mahony apparently as he squared up on camera with Morgan. The latter came out on top of that little spat and it was now game up and time to plan the parties, even if Munster were determined to finish with some pride.

Deep into stoppage time, their efforts were suitably rewarded as Barnes went over into the corner, to cap a persistent cross field move. His score was to go unconverted, but it had the honour of bringing the curtain down on a cracking game that lived up to and beyond it's expectations. 23-14.

Did we enjoy that? As if we need to answer that.

Cornish Pirates
W. Davies (T. Luke 79), R. McAtee, M. Ireland, S. Winn, N. Jackson, J. Bentley, G. Cattle (capt)(J. Doherty 79), B. Cowan (M. Evans 79), D. Ward, C. Morgan, B. Gulliver, L. McGlone (M. Myerscough 52), A. Paver (R. Storer 79), R. Elloway (S. Betty 57), C. Rimmer (P. Andrew 62) .

Tries: Winn, McAtee
Cons: Bentley 2
Pens: Bentley 3

15 Sean Scanlon 14 Danny Barnes 11 Simon Zebo (Mike Kelliher 79)
13 Tom Gleeson 12 Jeremy Manning 10 Declan Cusack (Conor Murray 65) 9 Duncan Williams (Ronan O'Mahony 65)
8 Peter O'Mahony (capt) 7 Tommy O'Donnell (Paddy Butler 62) 6 Billy Holland
5 Ian Nagle (Dave O'Callaghan 62) 4 Dave Foley
3 Stephen Archer 2 Mike Sherry 1 Dave Kilcoyne (Dave Ryan 40)

Replacements: not used (16 Sean Henry)

Try: Barnes
Pens: Cusack 3

Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRFU)
Assistants: David Jones & Wayne Davies
TMO: Tony Rowlands
Officials 4 & 5: Nigel Higginson & Andy Bickle

Mascots: Lauren Coumbe (Camborne U8s) & Jack Rogers (Pirates U8s)

Man of Match: Dave Ward