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Fifty weeks without a ruck take it’s toll. Thirteen more days, without so much as a kick & chase at The Mennaye, doesn’t help matters either. A year like no other in living memory therefore, has come at a price. Several if we’re honest and most that humbly puts sport – rugby included – into stark perspective.
Today’s visit of Harvey’s Jersey Reds therefore is of some relief – albeit behind closed doors. The bright sunny conditions did though add a certain something to cheer up proceedings. Proceedings that began only after tribute was paid to a true gentleman, Dave Muirhead, who sadly passed on Wednesday.
Fitting it was then, that both sides’ approach to this friendly didn’t follow the sort of pattern often found in such a fixture – and were ‘at it’ properly from Mr Foley’s first whistle – if a little rusty at first. More so the Pirates it has to be said as the visitors outing v Coventry a couple of weeks showed them as a little more switched on.
That being so – there were only two penalties chalked up on the scoreboard in the opening quarter, from Reds’ fly half, Cope, to show for their sound start.
This though seemed to be the catalyst to spark the Pirates into life – a shift in balance, that never really altered for the remainder of a satisfying work out for the hosts.
The turning tide began the moment prop Tyack, finally found the measure of his opposite number, Richardson – who hitherto had had Jay in all sorts of trouble at scrum time. Some wise words from Paves seemed to be the magic.
Attacking probes from Cornish forwards – Stevens & Frost – gave hope. Dan in particular going onto to prove to be a real menace to the blue clad Reds. But the final penetrating phase eluded until JB finally crossed the line just into the second quarter. Eventual Man of the Match – loanee Luke Scully – crisply slotted the first of his tally of 9 points from out wide. The Welsh lad well worth his accolade.
The hosts were now in control – their second try from No 8, Duncan emphasising this perfectly – which rounded off the half at 14-6, once Luke had added the extras.
At the turnaround the Pirates seamlessly picked from where they left off and were quickly onto the offensive. Replacement forward, Kiri Kiri, announced his presence immediately, launching Frosty into Jersey territory at the Newlyn End.
Pressure mounted and the Reds could do little more than concede penalties in reply. Antonio’s quick tap and go provided the platform for Scully to round off an excellent debut, for the fly half to run diagonally into the Old Western National Corner for a try of his own – barely two minutes in. The Pirates weren’t to look back from here.
Cue the expected raft of changes from both sides – which unusually perhaps didn’t upset the flow of the game. Not so for those covering the game whose job thus became ‘interesting’.
This mattered little to those watching on stream – or listening on the wireless – as a fourth score was surely imminent. Step up Kiri Kiri for another tap & go – and another sequence of phases involving Caulfield amongst others – finally concluded with prop Andrew emerging with his arms in the air, to the right of the posts. Replacement fly half Bazalgette, easily slotted the two extras to make it a 20 point game, with less than fifteen minutes left.
Harvey’s charges did however respond immediately – albeit from some more Pirates attacking play breaking down in the Reds’ 22. Centre, Dan Barnes enjoying a 70 odd metre gallop to dot down at The Penzance End unopposed.
Bader Pretorius’s conversion was good and the visitors sniffed perhaps something more. Unfortunately for them – the Pirates’ Purple Defensive Wall had other ideas.