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As sporting clichés go – the old ‘game of two halves’ – would apply with interest, following this extraordinary Round 6 clash, on a fine autumn afternoon at the Mennaye Field.
On reflection – the Pirates probably had just enough in hand, in terms of points on the board and time on the clock. But when Nottingham’s centre, Will Millett – profited from Jake Ashby’s charged down box kick in the 74th minute, to secure the visitor’s 4 try bonus point – home support hearts were firmly in the mouth region.
Mercifully for the hosts, they managed to secure possession in the right areas and run down the clock from thereon. Top spot therefore was retained – which was after all the primary target. Though such a reversal of fortunes and feeling, will be of concern in preparation for next weeks trip to a rejuvenated Jersey. Not exactly a happy hunting ground for the Pirates of late.
And yet a blistering first half display had had the home faithful purring – and rightly so – as the Cornish Pirates hit the ground running in style.
Four changes from last weeks narrow loss away to Ealing immediately drew reward – as returnees, Toms, Duncan & Cowan- Dickie – announced their renewed fitness, with a try apiece in the opening nine minutes.
The Cornishmen were on fire. Four clicks later and winger Alex O’Meara singed the Nottingham defence further – with a blistering run that would have impressed either of my greyhounds.
Then – with the first quarter still not complete – Pirates’ full back, Kyle Moyle emphasised his side’s superiority, with a 95 metre interception try as Nottingham pressed for the first time in the game. A 7th bonus point was in the bag and Nottingham were merely spectators at their own destruction.
Will Cargill added a penalty close to the half hour mark – just in case anyone thought that the points had dried – to add to his three conversions to date. His fourth followed swiftly, with Tyler Gendall nailing a fifth home try off the back of yet more irresistible forward play and the half time break looming.
In some ways, with a 36 point cushion in the bag – the one and only lapse in Cornish concentration that allowed Jordan Coghlan to ghost through for the visitors first points in the half’s final play – appeared excusable. This was just a consolation right?
As with any sport – rugby has countless examples – where any such assumptions prove foolhardy. Even so – with only half an hour remaining – the Pirates may well have gone off the boil following numerous changes. But their aggressive defensive effort was still proving effective.
This appeared a reasonable observation, even after Cameron Dolan reached over the Pirate whitewash for a debut try in Green & White colours – albeit it was grey for the day.
When slick handling from Nottingham created an overlap for Billy Robinson to dot down wide out at the Scoreboard corner – and Shane O’Leary delivered an excellent conversion – it was fair to say nervous looks began to appear. More so when Millett then did the deed previously mentioned.
What hasn’t been was Jack Spittle’s late burst down the wing in front of the main stand. Had it been finished, it may have only yielded a second bonus point for the visitors- rather like the Pirates’ late surge at Vallis Way a week before had. You never know for sure.
Moyler’s decisive tackle prevented such speculation however and set a platform for the hosts to at last gain a handle on the second period. Ashby’s kick to touch even so, had more than it’s share of relief in it’s execution all the same.