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After last week’s disappointment at Bedford – and with ‘Deirdre’ doing her best to deliver a stormy welcome for our visitors – precious few would have dared predict such a fine win for the Cornish Pirates. And in so doing – improve their ranking in the draw for the knockout stage – instead of merely the expected ‘best of the rest’ standing.
Make no mistake. This was as encouraging a showing that anyone could have wished for – as to a man – the Cornish side threw themselves into this contest with unrelenting vigour from minute one.
The mood in the camp from Monday onwards, has been centred wholly on addressing the issues around the penalty count and a misfiring set piece – that had beset their showing at Goldington Road a week earlier. Arguably since their perfect start to the season had begun to falter.
Determination and never-say-die is a fine attribute – and has rescued the Pirates on more than one occasion. But this wasn’t enough and even with concerns up front – there was clear intent to right these woes as the pre match warm up concluded.
The conditions were frankly abysmal and would obviously be a levelling factor – as the rain lashed down and the wind howled in from the Newlyn End. The Pirates too – had these elements at their backs as Will Cargill kicked off.
Obvious thoughts suggested that the hosts would need to capitalise if they were to hold any serious hope. Let’s not forget the thumping they’d been dished out a month ago at the MadStad – and Irish’s clear pedigree if the odds veered towards the Exiles.
Joy then – when Moyle opened the scoring in the Clubhouse Corner only five minutes chalked off – and only moments after the impressive Andrew had nearly claimed that honour in the opposite corner. Cargill’s conversion was doomed from the moment it left the tee – as Deirdre grabbed the ball and re-directed it towards Pz long before the posts were in range.
The Exiles response was swift and the dangers they posed became clear, as Williams darted through off the back of a solid maul. Myler’s extras defied the wind from close in. Normal service would surely fo…
Errr. No. As it transpired. More pressure from the Cornish resumed – and Andrew’s try as the first quarter closed was no fluke. Cargill’s 2nd pot attempt was good and the lead restored. His attempt though to extend by three, three minutes later – wasn’t as blessed. A 12-7 lead at the break would have to suffice – and a defensive effort from the home side to maintain this – surely signalled a second period of similar?
Perhaps not it transpired (again). Tom Duncan’s dot down only ten minutes into the new half – again – had been coming. Irish had been under the cosh from the restart and had conceded three quick penalties in the process. Cargill’s second conversion stretched the advantage to two scores – and we began to wonder if indeed this was to be the Pirates day.
As the clock ticked by – and the Exiles emptied their bench – the intensity from the hosts never let up. Much to the Irish’s increasing frustration – mainly with their own inability to impose themselves on the contest.
The Pirates meanwhile appeared reluctant to introduce fresh legs into the pack – which bucks the trend in modern times. Maybe Paves & Gav didn’t fancy arguing the point with Stevens & Co -whose body language and application of said – were clearly suggesting that this would be foolish.
It mattered little – although it was sad to see former Pirate- Blair Cowan’s first return to Cornwall end as ignominiously – as a below par performance from the Scottish international – ended with a straight red card with ten minutes remaining. A high, late challenge on Moyle being his downfall.
Kyle’s afternoon ended not unsurprisingly – although the full back was upright at least as he trundled along the touchline – no doubt to help search for a lost hipflask – that had just been reported over the PA system.
With the game now up for the visitors – they did at least release their self imposed shackles and strive for something in the shape of consolation. O’Meara’s chase back on Williams as the line beckoned – however – ruined any hope of salvation as the indecision returned. A moment that underlined their day at the office. But also confirmation that the better team on the day had won.