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The Where & When may have only been Fixed recently…but it’s difficult to wonder in these parts whether the mighty Saracens were now wishing it hadn’t.
Few would have expected the illustrious visitors to have left the humble Mennaye with nothing – and yet despite their best efforts – this is exactly what happened. And then some…
Make no mistake this was no fluke, as the Pirates – buoyed by the statement this week in the national press by the irrepressible Dicky Evans – recovered from a shaky start and set about taking the game to the Saracens instead. By the time fly half, Luke Scully, checked with Sara that time was indeed up deep in the hosts’ 22 and the clock well into the red – the Londoners were a well beaten side in all departments.
As mentioned already – they’d began ominously enough – having set up camp on the Pirates Penzance End try line in the opening few minutes. Sturdy defence from the homesters denied the Sarries pack from gaining any early kudos – and so the ball instead was spun out left to Scottish international, Sean Maitland, to open their account. Surely this would signal a routine professional demolition of these cheeky westerners…?
However – Man of the Match , John Stevens in particular…and his nose….had other ideas The first of his frequent attendances to bleeding proboscis, obviously only proving to be his and the team’s resurgence. Seven minutes later and Scully’s trusty right peg underlined this growing belief – with a straightforward penalty from in front of the posts. Game on?
Most definitely – as skipper, Tom Duncan then emerged from a pile of bodies close to the half hour mark to put Cornish noses in front, for the first time in the contest.
And yet in this first period it was the penalty count against the Pirates that held them back. A second Sarries try soon after from Lewington, reversed the order – but with Manu Vunipola missing a second conversion attempt – we turned around only two points in deficit. The visitor’s set piece was creaking too – particular at lineout time as Cutmore & Tiga caused endless havoc.
After the break – any thoughts of Saracens finding their feet were quickly dispelled. Hooker, Frost wanted to deflect attention from Stevens’ nose from the get go – firstly with a deft grubber kick. And then decisively when powering Josh Caulfield over for the Cornishmen’s second try.
Scully’s conversion extended their lead – but only briefly – as Sarries lock Tim Swinson carbon copied this achievement almost immediately after. Manu, this time slotted the extras and a two point cushion for the visitors was restored.
This was their high water mark. Their scrum was by now not only creaking – but being absolutely mullered by the Prates’ 8. Scully’s second penalty from the Saracen’s ten metre line edged the hosts back in front. A lead they would never relinquish.
Indeed the cream was put on top (of the jam) when replacement scrum half, Rhodri Davies, announced his arrival with the game winning try, three minutes from time. Luke’s conversion denying the visitors even the crumbs of a losing bonus point.
Would it fair to say that as far as the Pirates are concerned – the gloves are off? For this season and the challenges ahead….