All the Latest News & Fixtures...
Travelling to Doncaster Knights for a Round 2 match in the Greene King IPA Championship, having emerged winners on their last three league visits to Castle Park the Cornish Pirates pleasingly extended that particular sequence with a fourth such victory.
On the same day as his brother Luke experienced Rugby World Cup quarter-final success with England, hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie was making his 50th appearance for the Pirates. The starting XV also showed just the one change from the team that six days earlier won at home to Ealing Trailfinders, with loose-head prop Marlen Walker taking the place of Jack Andrew, who for this encounter was selected on what was also an otherwise unchanged bench.
On a dull but calm afternoon at Castle Park, the Pirates opened their account in just the second minute thanks to fly-half Javier Rojas Alvarez slotting a penalty kick attempt from some 40 metres out. It was a great start, however the home side soon hit back when full-back Johnny McPhillips took advantage of a created overlap to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Not daunted the Pirates were quick to get back on track, pressure created leading to Rojas Alvarez forcing his way over the line for a try to which he also added the extras.
An unfortunate casualty early in the match was Cowan-Dickie, who limped off injured to be replaced by Tom Channon. The Pirates were then forced to defend for a spell as Doncaster centre Pete Lucock and wing Kyle Evans threatened and the Knights pack also scrummaged well.
Approaching the half-hour mark, after the Pirates attacked through centre Callum Patterson it was Rojas Alvarez who then delivered an excellent chip into space, his vice-captain Nicolas De Battista alert to follow through and score a converted try.
Maintaining entertainment levels there would be more points before the break. Knights’ winger Tyson Lewis first dotted the ball down for a try this time converted fly-half Sam Olver, and the Pirates registered their third converted score when skipper Brett Beukeboom was driven over. The half then came to an end when a penalty kicked by Olver made the scoreline 15-24.
After an absorbing first forty the second half continued to provide interest. Both sides lost a man to the sin bin in the opening minutes, Walker first shown yellow and there then one for Donny’s hooker Ben Hunter. This contest was clearly hotting up, however Rojas Alvarez landed a penalty for the Pirates and wing Alex O’Meara then took advantage of another deft chip through from the Argentinean to not just extend the Cornish team’s lead but to also score a converted bonus-point-providing fourth try.
The Doncaster side refused to buckle and, after the Pirates next lost wing Maliq Holden to the sin bin and Olver was on target with another penalty, it was replacement home hooker George Edgson who took advantage to score yet another a converted try. With the score now reading 25-31, it was ‘game on’.
To ease any developing pressure, two more penalties from Rojas Alvarez extended the Pirates lead. Also, in time remaining, they not only frustrated their opponents to close the game out, which included, not for the first time this season, another try-saving tackle by Holden, but in the process cemented their victory thanks to a try scored by Patterson. The conversion to finally end matters, besides his contribution in the match as an influential creator, also took Rojas Alvarez’s tally of points to 24 in the match.
Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates joint coach Gavin Cattle commented:
Despite it being a bit of a stop start game, we are naturally pleased with such a result away from home.
Our energy ebbed and flowed but being dynamic in spells are periods in games that we will look to extend.
The aim was to gain a bonus point win, which we achieved, plus I thought our bench provided a boost and that when it got close we also commendably avoided spiralling out of control.