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A difficult afternoon for the Cornish Pirates, eventually ended in agonising defeat, as a revival of fortunes after the break for the hosts – fell frustratingly short.
Chances came and went, as Jersey’s discipline began to creak under pressure in that second period. Twenty minutes with a man down certainly made the Cornishmen’s task that bit easier – in theory. But with the experience in the visitors’ pack digging in and getting dirty – so to speak – only Moyle’s unconverted try was forthcoming. Until the final five that was.
Mike Pope had been introduced at scrum half and had immediately added some zip. But the Pirates somehow conspired to find themselves pegged back and deep inside their own 22 once more. The increasing wind in their faces and some canny territory kicking hadn’t helped.
And yet the combination of Laverick & Koster took play to within touching distance of the Jersey line that had the crowd on its feet and hopeful. Lawday too was in attendance – what could possibly go wrong? Knock on – offside – it matters not. The result was the same regardless as the Islanders ground their way up the pitch once more and played down the clock – by means fair or otherwise.
Harvey may well be pleased with the outcome – and yet it may never have had been. Conditions in the lead up to this New Years Eve fixture had proved to be a headache for all those involved – and with weather predictions suggesting some (more) of the wild and wet stuff before the final whistle – collective Cornish breaths were being held. Why were we surprised at the bright, sunny, if breezy conditions that greeted a bumper crowd?
Even so – a heavy – but much better playing surface than expected, at least gave hope of some open play to counter what most would have otherwise expected. The Pirates – keen to end two years in Jersey’s shadow results-wise – began with just such enterprise. Cargill’s 9th minute penalty was however all that was to show for these efforts as the visitors’ grew in confidence.
The Islanders duly found their feet – literally – and set into motion a route one game plan that yielded mauled tries for Argyle and Selway. Their set piece too provided the platform for what should have been more – but for some heroic defence from the Pirates. Hope then still at the break – more so as Cargill provided a try from nothing – which the fly half neatly converted – in between the oppositions’ successes either side.
Nick Selway’s second trip over the line after the break thus proved to be the decisive score. Thus, Jersey may well have taken the spoils for a 5th consecutive time then – but the (almost) obligatory losing bonus for the Pirates at least preserved their 7th spot in the league above the Islanders.
The Pirates meanwhile must regroup – with a free weekend in between – for a difficult, almost must win game in Ulster. Success there in the afternoon tea B&I Cup clash – will almost certainly nail a place in the last eight. It would also provide another potential kick start for their league campaign.