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Another losing bonus point looked odds on as the visiting Knights summoned one last, time consuming play on halfway. Everything looked under control until Sara Cox spotted an infringement that handed the Pirates a final roll of the dice. Laurence duly planted the ball perfectly close to the corner to set up a grandstand finish, that moments before appeared to have eluded the hosts. Collective Cornish breath was held….
And yet this on an afternoon where Doncaster had by and large had held the Pirates at a reasonably comfortable ‘arms length’. In fact they’d lead from the get go – courtesy of hooker Ben Hunter’s 7th minute dot down – to give them the perfect tonic in their first match since the sad passing of prop, Ian Williams, nearly a fortnight previously.
The minute silence, appropriately observed for a second week, perhaps fittingly, was held with the sky darkened and with light rain falling. But it’s effect clearly fired up the visitors who came out like an express train.
This enthusiasm came at a cost however and stemmed their flow somewhat as both try scorer Hunter and full back, Jarvis, succumbed to injury in the opening twelve minutes.
Not unsurprisingly – with the playing surface deteriorating – the game evolved into something more attritional as forcing errors became the mantra. The ball therefore spending a lot of time in the air.
The Pirates however could not capitalise on the spoils of their more enterprising efforts and suffered the inevitable blow for not turning possession & territory into points. Will Cargill’s missed penalty was bad enough as their clearest scoring chance – but when Hunter’s replacement emerged from a pile of bodies at the Newlyn End to extend the Knight’s advantage to twelve points – we knew there was a hill to climb.
But climb the Cornishmen did after the break – as the aerial warfare resumed and produced reward at last.
Beukeboom’s charge down of James’ latest missile launch close to halfway broke the spell. John Stevens kick through invited a chase from eventual Man of the Match, Alex O’Meara, on their right.
He couldn’t miss. But May’s conversion attempt did – as the replacement fly half found his peg disappearing into the mud at completely the wrong moment.
Hopes of comeback had to wait however – as Donny found new wind in their own sails. Ten minutes later and wingman, Bulumukau, wove some intricate lines through the Pirates defence in their own 22. No 8 Josh Tyrell trotted under the sticks and Humberstone’s conversion extended the Yorkshiremen’s lead to two converted tries, as the final quarter commenced.
Tom Duncan’s almost immediate riposte was backed up May keeping his feet with a conversion and then a penalty. Four points in it and fully seven minutes in which to mount one final effort.
Players from both sides now seemed to be dropping like flies with cramp. The clock kept ticking and when Donny’s Nelson, was pinged for holding on with only two clicks remaining. We dared believe only to wince as it all came to nothing. Or so it seemed.
One careless moment was all it took.
A penalty for the Pirates was set nicely. And then another to get them throwing the ball in from only 5m out this time. Morgs’ athleticism in the lineout. Some composure and then the long arm of Tom Lawday to snatch victory and render May’s conversion a formality followed to break Donny hearts.
How many times have we been there this term? We feel your pain chaps!