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Any thoughts of winning the last British & Irish Cup looked as distant as any hope of seeing the sun half an hour in to this 4th round fixture. But a rousing second half performance that produced five tries, turned things around nicely enough for the Pirates – who regained the intiative in Pool 5 following their setback in Aberavon only six days previously.
The dank and dark conditions that greeted the teams, proved appropriate to suit the mood that evolved in a worrying first quarter for the hosts – who seemingly couldn’t put a foot right. This after an energetic opening spell, that qualified pre match promise of a response, to the 10-18 reverse on Monday evening to the same side.
The visiting Scarlets Select thus galloped into a lead with frightening ease. Nicholas’s try and Bottica’s sublime touchline conversion stunned the home faithful. Worse – returnee Matt Evans, who should have been celebrating his 100th appearance – limped off which gives obvious concern.
Welsh hopes increased further with a penalty by Bottica, who at this point only fifteen minutes in looked firmly in charge. Their ten point advantage looked temporary and would surely be added to as they pressed for more. The only sticking point was the Cornish defence, that at least regained some composure.
This wasn’t transmitted going forwards however as chances at last appeared only to be spoilt – some anxiety clearly on display with the whitewash in sight.
But mercifully this didn’t dissuade them from showing ambition regardless – kick able penalties being dismissed for greater glory. Finally – and with Mr Leal checking his timepiece – Dunks bludgeoned his way over after another scrum 5. Hope then with kettle boiling in the changing room.
Post tea and oranges and it was all change on the dominance front. The gold shirted Pirates came out with a vengeance – if sans Beukeboom who took a bash to the bonce – and applied the proverbial screw from the get-go.
Scarlet’s skipper – Shaun Evans – paid the price for an indiscretion too far and – whilst absent – had to witness his side relinquish their lead for good to tries from Duncan and De Battista. Things didn’t improve upon his return either – as Laverick was awarded the crucial bonus point try for the Cornishmen, as the contest entered it’s final quarter.
This was obviously the signal for Paves to call time on his 357th appearance who finally had the chance to put his feet up with a good book and a puff on his pipe. Another fine shift from someone who really can remember the ‘old days’…
We can be sure too of his delight as the 5th try followed soon after – as the younger boys in the pack shoved their counterparts off their own scrum. Alex Day did the rest.
Even then there was time for one last hurrah, as Cargill gleefully intercepted an ambitious pass from Llanelli from inside their own 22 – who quite rightly sought something with the odds so stacked against them. We can only hope that Bristol will be in as festive a mood come Friday evening…..