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After such a cracking quarter final tie between two fully committed sides – one would hope that any further nonsense from on high in rugby’s administration, will be despatched to the cutting room floor without delay.
Both the Pirates and Coventry have been prominent in the fallout, since plans to stem any ambition within Tier 2 ranks – and below – were announced in cavalier fashion from ‘HQ’. How appropriate then that they showed how rugby itself in these ‘desolate wastelands’, can actually be good value – not just in monetary terms – but with passion, flair & emotion.
That the hosts emerged on top – booking themselves an away semi final clash in the Toon in the process – could be said to be of secondary importance. Even so – there was also a need to avenge their narrow loss at Cov’ three weeks earlier. Proper job on that score then.
The contest itself began in relatively steady fashion, as both fly halves – Wills’ Cargill & Maisey – exchanged a couple of successful penalty kicks each in the opening quarter. Any sign of fireworks wasn’t in view at this point – although it would be unfair to suggest that things weren’t competitive. Frosty and Cov’s experienced prop, Boulton – as one example – were getting to ‘know’ each other.
At 6 each then, the planned 2 minute applause around the ground – as a sign of solidarity against the funding cuts – began. Cue Pirates’ backrow – Will Wilson – to not only make the first serious line break, but complete his progress with the first try of the game. A curved ball for the crowd to adapt to during their ‘protest’.
Cargill’s extras coincided with the end of the applause – putting the Cornish side into a lead they weren’t to relinquish. The half concluding as it began – with both 10’s adding a penalty apiece. Although Cov’s Nayalo may have considered himself fortunate to still be on the pitch, after a high challenge on Pirates’ scrum half, Schwarz.
An entertaining first half for sure and despite a difficult playing surface. But there was still no inkling of what was to follow after the break.
Dan Frost’s try early in the second period was perhaps the moment the touch paper was lit – the Pirates’ MoM’s score – seemingly giving the hosts some breathing space in the process.
Moments later – and skipper Brett Beukeboom found himself with not only space in front of him – but also the ball and only a mere 40m to jog for glory. Mr Richards however deemed the offload to the Canadian international as forward – Beuks’ moment was denied.
The Pirates’ two score advantage didn’t last long. A raft of replacements by the visitors – including the introduction of former Pirate favourite, Tom Kessell – had immediate effect.
A fourth penalty from Maisey was quickly followed by a converted try scored by the remaining ‘Will’ on the pitch – Owen – and in the blink of an eye, the Midlanders were back in it. The final quarter had been set up perfectly.
Cov’s tails were up – but the Pirates responded in similar fashion just when they needed too.
Tucker’s break – as the centre spotted Maisey way too far forward in Cov’s defensive line – set up sweeping move by the Cornishmen – Parata & Frost being the most prominent in setting up Kiri Kiri in the Newlyn Gate Corner.
Five minutes later – and more adventure from deep created by replacement scrum half, Rhodri Davies’ faked box kick – had Frost in the mix again wide out left. The hooker’s deft offload to Cant was perfectly timed and the winger cantered under posts.
Still Coventry wouldn’t concede. Two late tries rumbled over from close in catch & drives by a redeemed Nayalo & Tolmie – proved to be not enough however.
Cargill’s 76th penalty sealed the win – and with the visitors gamely looking to finish with the last say from deep in their own 22 – the ball was spilt – gifting Wedlake with it instead. Whilst Cargill maintained a 100% kicking performance to bring the curtain down on a thoroughly entertaining match.