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Following on from their comfortable 62-7 opening Championship Cup win away to Richmond the previous weekend, the Cornish Pirates won on the road once more, and again with a bonus point.
For this Round 2 fixture at Caldy’s Paton Field ground on the Wirral, which provided a first ever meeting between the two sides, the Cornish Pirates selection showed four changes in their starting XV from the side that ran out at Richmond. Named at full-back, Will Trewin was making his first competitive match appearance for the Pirates, whilst Shae Tucker was selected to partner Tommy Wyatt in the centre. In the forwards, prop Matt Johnson was keen to return to playing action, and after coming off the bench at the ‘RAG’ skipper John Stevens once again took a place in the backrow. Also listed among the replacements was Bear Williams, who made one appearance for the Pirates in last season’s Cup competition.
Match underway, this game was evenly contested in the opening stages, with the Pirates expecting a much tougher examination than experienced at Richmond, noting that their hosts, who were promoted from National 1 at the end of last season, had also won their Cup opener, 17-13, at home against Ampthill.
After wing Arthur Relton threatened for the Pirates early on, only to be penalised, it was approaching midway through the first period that the Pirates, through Relton, deservedly opened their account. This time, making sure of getting his name on the scoresheet, he intercepted and sprinted in from near halfway, for fly-half Harry Bazalgette to then add the extras.
Despite the Pirates taking a lead, their opposition were proving doughty opponents. The defence was tested by the ‘Ravers’ (Caldy’s nickname) but thus far the Pirates held strong.
As the half progressed, Bazalgette kicked well out of hand, and wing Callum Sirker gathered scrum-half Tom Kessell’s box kick to get the Pirates on the front foot. Centre Tommy Wyatt also made a fine break before play was called back following an adjudged forward pass.
Caldy had an experienced performer in scrum half Chris Pilgrim, a former Newcastle ‘Falcon’, but it was the Pirates who looked to finish the half strongly. Lock James Fender charged down a kick, and the Ravens gave several penalties away inside their ‘22’. Pressure created also saw them lose the services of number 8 Tom Parry to the sin bin, but the Pirates were unable to take advantage, and halftime arrived with the score still reading 0-7.
Into the second half, full-back Will Trewin made good yardage and impressed, however his opposite number, Caldy’s Rhys Hayes, would soon make a telling kick out of hand. From a penalty award he posted the ball perfectly to within five metres of the Pirates line, and in short time hooker Ethan Caine duly celebrated with a try that was converted by wing Ben Jones.
The score had provided a sudden confidence boost to the admirable Caldy side, though in the overall context of the game it did not last. They certainly never gave up, but the action that counted now stemmed from the efforts of the Pirates who now built an extra level of pressure upon their opponents.
In the 53rd minute, from a line-out the Pirates backs were clinically into action, and it was Wyatt who showed power and pace to crash over for an unconverted score.
Trewin was also once again catching the eye, this time with a lengthy run that got the Pirates very much on the front foot. The advance saw the Pirates go close to scoring a third try but for a knock-on close to the line.
Although there was very much a sense that the Pirates should emerge victorious, as play entered the last quarter a 7-12 scoreline made it clear that all was still to play for, and this still a game too close to call.
An importantly powerful scrum won the Pirates a penalty and a chance to kick to the corner and get their driving maul into action. This resulted in a number of pick and goes that suitably dented the opposition defence, and when the ball was given width it was Relton who duly delivered as, for the second week running, he scored a brace. Bazalgette also converted to make it 7-19
Caldy introduced a handful of replacements in an effort to stem the flow. However, it was to no avail, because seeking a bonus point providing fourth try Seb Nagle-Taylor quick-tapped following another penalty award and brushing off two defenders scored. Replacement Carwyn Penny then stepped forward to add the final two points of a satisfactory afternoon.
Speaking at the end of Saturday’s contest, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Alan Paver commented:
“We know what Caldy are all about, being a gritty and passionate outfit, and it was a long way to go. But it was a decent win for us and to get the bonus point we are over the moon.
“As part of our development and performance structure and giving players opportunities, it was also pleasing for instance that Will Trewin took his chance and excelled today.”
“The elements were in our favour in the first half, and we were a little disappointed not to score more points. That said, they burnt up a lot of fuel and looking in control we eventually won the game with a bit to spare.”