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Another crazy, but entertaining afternoon – bathed in some rare sunshine at the Mennaye – required the reliable boot of Man of the Match, Laurence May, to steady some increasing nerves with three late penalties – to finally quell the Exiles’ spirited fightback.
This fourth straight league success for the Cornish Pirates – not only moves them up to 5th in the Championship – but sends them up to Ealing in excellent spirits – for an Easter Saturday British & Irish Cup clash with the Trailfinders that promises an intriguing chance to right a ‘wrong’ from the opening game of the season.
For the here and now though – the defensive lapses that created this latest thriller in West Cornwall – will be of high priority at training this week according to joint Head Coach, Gavin Cattle.
The flurry of tries in the third quarter had seen the hosts by Stevens & Moyle (2) – had eased the Cornishmen into a comfortable position (46-24) – that London Scottish seemingly had no further answer for – and fully half an hour to play. Paves had also trotted on to enjoy some fun in the sun, for the 360th occasion in his career. All seemed well with the world at this point.
As it had done too – in an evenly contested first period that had seen both sides share six tries – but were separated in no small manner by Laurence May’s accuracy from the tee. That and some deft footwork by Cornish hooker, Sam Matevesi , who’s sidestep on former Pirate, Craig Holland, produced the home side’s best try of the day – his second of the half.
A ten point advantage at the break for the Pirates had though been earned the hard way. Their bright start brought no reward – and as if to rub salt in this wound – the Scots promptly opened the scoring with their first attack with a converted try for 50 up man – flanker Chris Walker.
The Pirates clawed their back almost immediately through the first of May’s five penalties – and then with Matevesi’s first dot down quickly after.
The warning signs for later drama was sent in quick-fire fashion as Scots’ winger, Coombes, punished some dithering at the restart. And then again at the half’s conclusion by his replacement, Stevenson.
Mercifully for the hosts – their skipper De Battista had rounded off a fine move from the Pirates in the Old Western National Corner – only moments before Josh’s 30m gem – that gave the Cornishmen some breathing space.
We should have known.
And so with the Pirates apparently cruising came that dramatic final ’20’.
Crucially – as the Cornishmen had been ramping up pressure beforehand – the Exiles’ skipper, Danny Kenny, had once more crucified some sloppy restart execution. Sharp had added the extras too. But still there didn’t appear to be any imminent danger.
Two rapid converted tries from Waldren & Milne completed blew away any complacent thoughts and left a potentially nervy final ten minutes still remaining. Credit where it was due though – as the Pirates kept their cool and took the game back to their revitalised opponents. Laurence coolly did the rest.