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Never take anything for granted – so wise people rightfully say. And so it may have come to pass on a torrid afternoon at the Mennaye from a Pirates perspective.
The sun shone as kick off approached and – after a welcome break from action last weekend – confidence was understandably high coming into round 4 of the Championship Cup. With three successive home ties to look forward to – expectation(s) may have got ahead of itself as well. This with an awareness that a number of changes had been made coming into the fixture (nine) – including four making their competitive debuts for the club.
Thus, Nottingham rocked up into Pz – keen also no doubt to right some of the wrongs from two home losses to the Cornish side already this season. They’d have been delighted then, to have begun so brightly – their early endeavours rewarded by a try under the Penzance End posts from hooker, Brownlie, in the 4th minute – following a positive break through the Pirate line from lock, Jones. Canadian fly half O’Leary couldn’t miss the extras.
Encouragingly from a home perspective – the Pirates’ response came instantly. Skipper for the day, Cargill, slotted a 35m penalty to get his 100th appearance off to a good start straight after the restart – to hopefully calm any early jitters.
Two tries in four minutes before the first quarter was done, quickly built up a ten point cushion from which would surely be a platform to kick on. King and Davey marking their first competitive start and debuts respectively in promising fashion – whilst Cargs calmly adding the extras. Things looked rosy….
The visitors however had other ideas – and why shouldn’t they? The swift manner in which they’d fallen behind seemingly inspired – as they refused to roll over. Engineered by the impressive O’Leary and a known accomplice in the shape of former Pirate, Strong – they regained enough of a foothold to build from.
And lo – up stepped winger Spittle to ghost over for a second try just before the half hour -albeit with a suspicion of Pirates’ Holden being obstructed in the process. The officials thought otherwise and a nervy and scrappy feel beset the remainder of the first period.
Words were obviously said in the home changing room during the break – and the home front row had been 2/3 freshened up in the process. Channon & Rodman being introduced to try and kick-start the hosts. Cargill’s second penalty three minutes into the second half suggested possibly such.
But this never really transpired as the Cornishmen struggled to establish any rhythm and energy – despite obvious effort. It happens.
Quite rightly the Midlander’s exploited these weaknesses via tries from the impressive Strong and left wing Williams – and the clock now ticking ever faster in the final quarter. Harry’s dot down coming from a couple of side steps from the Pirates 22 line – that left a wake of flailing tacklers. David’s from persistence in chasing O’Leary’s kick into the Old Western National Corner and – significantly and un-noticed a limping Davey – who pulled up when turning to give chase too.
Harry (Davey)’s afternoon that had begun so pleasingly – sadly coming to an end with ten minutes remaining moments later – as the young winger was forced to trudge off.
Significantly this reduced the hosts to 14 players – as they’d used all their replacements – making the task of seeking a converted try of their won to (hopefully) win, that bit harder. But as if to underline their fortunes – valiant effort only got thrown back in their faces with O’Leary sealing a deserved five pointer – with a last kick of the game penalty, in front of the Newlyn Posts – denying the Pirates even a losing bonus point.