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Persistence proved to be the deciding factor for the Cornish Pirates, in a fiercely fought encounter affected by the blustery conditions.
With ten minutes to go – and from being in a strong position and holding a two score advantage – the hosts found themselves pegged back, by a suspiciously offside score in the Newlyn Gate Corner by replacement scrum half, Charlie Chapman. In the process – and after enjoying little scoring threat themselves – Hartpury suddenly sensed something more than the losing bonus point, now on offer.
The Pirates though, have discovered a new sense of belief in recent weeks – which began at today’s opponents in the British & Irish Cup clash last month. Any thought of rolling over and allowing a result to slip from their grasp, never reared it’s head. Quite the opposite in fact.
A first probe following Cargill’s restart, came to nothing. Up though stepped Man of the Match – Josh Caulfield to bulldoze his way into the Hartpury’s ’22’. The option to go to ground was passed and extra metres gained. The visitor’s defence were now well and truly on the back foot and quick hands created the gap for Moyle to exploit with a flourish. Game, set and match!
This fourth win on the bounce and position gain in the league standings – as alluded to above – had, until Hartpury’s late surge, been built from a solid foundation.
With the elements on their back for the first period – it was the Pirates who took the spoils in most aspects. That they had to settle for only the ten points, from Cargill’s boot and Cowan-Dickies’s determination close to the Newlyn End line in the opening quarter of an hour – was the only surprise.
The ambition was there and the desire to play with pace – but the wind and Hartpury’s dogged defence, prevented more in the way of clear cut chances. Scrum half Alex Day’s dislocated finger being re-aligned and his return to play epitomised the side’s enthusiasm. Ten nil it was then at the break – more so after a missed penalty by Cargill.
After tea – it was as we were before – the wind not relenting and now in the host’s faces. Perry and Cargill traded penalties – whilst Hartpury’s replacement tee kicker, Williams, discovered how strong the breeze was – as he missed his first attempt for points.
James was though to get his sights in five minutes later – as Tom Duncan was caught in possession in his own 22. Again. But thoughts of a spirited comeback for the College still seemed optimistic, as bold decision making by Cargill – with a kick-able penalty beckoning and Oakley still on the naughty chair – handed the initiative to the Pirates. Scrum dominance paid off and Mr O’Grady duly trotted under the sticks for seemed – then – to be the deciding score.
Hartpury have earned the respect at this level very quickly however. Their own persistence nearly brought with it reward. Today however – Cornish resolve was to hold firm.