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A home game at the Mennaye. In 2018. And a chance to right some wrongs in a season (so far). of near misses for the Cornish Pirates.
The visit of Yorkshire Carnegie – at the second time of asking, owing to a Cornish Monsoon season of biblical proportions – didn’t on paper offer high hopes of some joy at last. The 3rd placed men from Headingley arrived both in good form this season – 6 straight league wins – and also a somewhat large thorn in the Pirates form book for the fixture – their last success in October, painfully leaving the Cornishmen had to settle for their customary losing bonus point, when a win looked likely.
Having lost their last four league games since success over Bedford way back at the beginning of December – the omens didn’t appear to be stacking in the Pirates favour.
Ten minutes in – and a somewhat scrappy affair hindered by a bitterly cold pre-cursor to the Beast from the East – wasn’t offering any sign of a change of fortune. The Pirates were camped in their own half and under mounting Carnegie pressure, with Mr Harding not ecstatic with the Pirates’ interpretation of the Laws.
But the visitors had had to cope with the early loss of their talisman scrum half, Alex Davies, to a nasty looking knock to the knee as early as the 5th minute. Initially it didn’t suggest disruption – and yet when the Cornishmen finally got their hands on the ball and scored via De Battista in the Scoreboard Corner – few would have predicted what was to follow.
Homer’s levelling try seemed to steady the ship. Seeing the Yorkshiremen shoved backwards at scrum time some 15 metres soon after – suggested a shift in the balance of power.
When this happened not once, but twice more…. no wonder belief in the home ranks soared. Tempers flared and with it Carnegie’s composure as Thomas became the first of three Yorkshire players to sit it out for ‘ten’.
Mr Harding duly trotted under the posts and was quickly followed by Harry Strong’s try wide out on the left to give the Pirates a solid lead. The wind meanwhile had made kicking from the tee a pointless exercise – although Cargill was getting closer.
The half concluded with another confidence boosting Cornish scrummage and a twelve point cushion.
Emerging from shelter of the changing rooms didn’t offer any solace or change of fortune. McColl’s first penalty kick to touch blew infield easily some 20m and with Stevens & Matevesi in particular taking no prisoners at tackle time – Yorkshire’s woes seemed to be on the rise.
Buckle’s departure for naughtiness appeared to initially gift the Pirates with a chance to increase their advantage and nab the four try bonus point – and with it surely a much needed win.
Instead Pirates club captain, Chris Morgan’s interventions at lineout time, finally incurred Sir’s wrath – and numbers became not only even – but shifted the onus to the visitors who sniffed success of their own. Former Pirate Mike Myerscough, drove onwards to the Pirates’ line while his skipper Richard Mayhew, went over for a second try. Homer defied the wind and nailed the first successful conversion of the afternoon.
Pirate hearts were in their mouths with the margin now back to only five – and fears of another reversal looming large.
We needn’t have fretted. This was as good as it was to get for the Yorkshiremen as the hosts regained not only composure but the initiative.
Tome Lawday’s strong run in front of the main stand with less than ten minutes remaining set the platform, from which the Pirates were not to look back from. Pressure in Carnegie’s ’22’ told and with the comfort of a penalty advantage – Cargill’s looping pass out to the right saw Alex O’Meara scamper over in the Newlyn Gate Corner to secure the most welcome of five pointer’s. A win that moves the Pirates up a couple of places in the standings to seventh.