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The Cornish Pirates title dreams are all but over after a 44-24 victory for Ealing Trailfinders at the Sports Club, left destiny out of their hands. The Pirates can still finish at the top of the Championship table, but it will take an extremely unlikely series of results which leaves the Trailfinders firmly in the driving seat and needing only two points to secure glory.
The real prize today was obviously Cap’n Benbow’s storming victory in the Mascot’s Race at half time. A length of the field gallop that left the host’s opposite number trailing in the wake.
Meanwhile – on the pitch things hadn’t been going as planned for the Pirates but – they had at least ended a particularly torrid first forty on a high. Tom Channon’s 15th try of the season & Arwell Robson’s close to touch conversion had given some hope. More so given Ealing’s wingman, Angus Kernohan, had still eight minute to spend in the ‘bin’ – following his off the ball tackle during the visitor’s first real attack.Just as well many would say – as the Trailfinders had inflicted 31 points of pain in a first period where the Cornish side just couldn’t make any impression – anywhere. A 9th minute penalty from fly half Craig Willis had shown little of what was to come. By the time he slotted his 4th conversion of tries from De Wee, Hampson, Bodilly and Campher – the damage was done. And a lot of time left into which to assert their dominance.
But the Pirates have shown character all season – and so coupled with a reputation of second half fight backs – when Robin Wedlake went over in the right hand corner, we dared to believe.
The men from the Mennaye pushed for a third score, before Ealing were back to there full quota of personnel. But it was to be Willis’s boot off the tee just before the wingers return – the ’10’ slotting a second penalty. In so doing – stretching the hosts to a four score cushion once more.
Time was now ticking by – a factor made even more painful as Kernohan added a fifth try, with the Pirates desperately searching for a kitchen sink. Any sink…Sadly it wasn’t to be found – although pride was still there to be played for. Replacement hooker, Syd Blackmore’s try just into the final quarter brought the four try bonus point into sight. This consolation duly delivered by Carwyn Penny, whose jinky run from Ealing’s 10m line, left a pile of defenders in his wake.
The dream of title glory thus was gone. Willis’s third penalty in between only confirming the hosts’ deserved march towards top spot. Surely a given with Richmond their final guests next week. For the Pirates then – its a final home game versus Ampthill next Saturday – and the honour of an unbeaten home campaign left to play for ( barring anything freaky happening elsewhere). That and some genuine recognition of a fine season overall in the league.
Next up is the last Championship fixture of the season at The Mennaye against Ampthill. The Pirates will be looking to finish in style, to record a first unbeaten home league season in the professional era, ironically against the last opponent to win in Cornwall in the Championship. The circumstances mean that it isn’t the straight title chasing finale we wanted, but a fine season will still be celebrated.