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Caldy 14

Cornish Pirates 32

2 March, 2024

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League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 14


Paton Field




Caldy 14


Cornish Pirates 32

Phil Westren

Returning to league action in what ahead of the weekend was a 9th versus 4th Championship encounter away to Caldy, the Cornish Pirates secured this excellent bonus point victory.


Despite having won 49-22 back at the Mennaye Field against Caldy in the league last November, the Pirates expected their opponents to pose a serious threat at home. Indeed, the Pirates lost 15-14 in their first league meeting at the Paton Field in December 2022, whilst the ‘Ravers’, to give Caldy their nickname, have overall steadily found their feet at Championship level and have recorded some impressive results.


Following their last league fixture away to Ealing Trailfinders, Cornish Pirates’ team news for this league contest saw a return to the starting line-up for fit again Ioan Evans, who partnered Joe Elderkin in the centre, whilst the named halfback pairing comprised Bruce Houston and Alex Schwarz, the latter making his 99th appearance for the club. Just ahead of kick-off, one late change in the backs saw Frankie Nowell replace wing Robin Wedlake who was suffering with a tooth infection. As for the forwards, Lefty Zigiriadis and Matt Johnson were the selected propping pair, and Will Gibson pulled on the number ‘7’ shirt.


The Caldy club was formed as Old Caldeians Rugby Club 100 years ago, and conditions at their Paton Field ground on the Wirral Peninsula were somewhat wet when Bruce Houston kicked the game off.


In the opening period the Pirates played with patience and control, and with a penalty advantage signalled in the eighth minute it was busy as ever skipper John Stevens who crossed to the right of the posts for the game’s opening try, with Houston adding the extras.


The first quarter saw the Pirates maintain a level of dominance, and after centre Ioan Evans was brought down just short of the line midway through the half, and with further penalty advantages indicated in favour, space was created for full-back Will Trewin to extend the Cornish team’s lead, with Houston again successful with his conversion.


From the restart, the Pirates firstly went close to adding to their score, when a fine run from athletic second-row Steele Barker saw him combine with wing Matt McNab, who was ultimately hauled down. As it worked out it was a case of ‘no worries’, because shortly after further applied pressure led to Lefty Zigiriadis making an impressive offload to prop partner Matt Johnson who scored the game’s third try. Houston, however, was unlucky on this occasion when his conversion attempt rebounded off a post.


The Ravers came more into the game later in the half when wing

Nick Royle, a recognised try-scoring machine who has played for England 7s, threatened. However, his chip and run came to nothing when the ball rolled dead.


A further opportunity for Caldy to score came right at the end of the half, after fly-half Rhys Hayes kicked for the corner to set a chance for an attacking line-out. As it worked out, the throw went long, and the Pirates won possession for the referee Mr. Tempest to then blow his whistle for halftime.


It was a frustrating end to the half for the home side and for their captain, JJ Dickinson, who was playing in the back row alongside his brother Sam, a former Northampton ‘Saint’. As for the Pirates, however, to hold a 19-0 lead at the break was evidence of a satisfying first forty, so when play resumed a hope to secure a four-try bonus point was surely in sight. We would see.


The Pirates soon displayed scrummage strength, not for the first time, and when a pinpoint kick out of hand by Houston found the hands of McNab another score looked possible, but for the present it was not to be.


Caldy showed signs of getting more into the game, whilst there were then a couple of setbacks for the Pirates who would lose two men to the sin bin. The first yellow card was shown to scrum-half Alex Schwarz for a high tackle made on Royle, and the second was directed to hooker Morgan Nelson for appearing to lift an opponent when Caldy were gifted an attacking lineout opportunity. As part of the outcome, the Ravers were also awarded a penalty try.


This was not the start to the second period sought by the Pirates, who now had a real challenge on their hands, and with home support suddenly finding their voices and raising decibel levels about the Wirral.


Another penalty awarded to the Ravers led to fly-half Rhys Hayes again using his cannon of a left boot to good effect, for another dangerous driving maul to follow. Backs also added their weight to the sought-after forward momentum, only for the Pirates to thwart their opponents and win back possession.


Midway through the half Houston had a penalty opportunity to open an important 15 points gap, and struck from long range, and with underfoot conditions less than ideal, his admirable effort sailed between the sticks. The scoreline now read 7-22, with the kick also about to signal the return of yellow-carded personnel.


The return of good fortune for the visitors perhaps deflated the Ravers, because fine handling led the Pirates to secure their fourth five-pointer of the match through replacement centre Tom Georgiou. Avoiding two attempted tackles, he stretched to score a try that was converted by Houston.


Nearing the end of this thoroughly workmanlike and professional performance by the Pirates, which saw them move back up to second in the Championship table, replacement Tom Pittman slotted a penalty before in the very last seconds there was a consolation try scored by Caldy’s bulky replacement prop Joe Sproston, which was converted by replacement Lewis Barker.


Speaking at the end of the contest, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:


“I though the first half was outstanding, as dominant we kept the ball for long periods.


“Yes, we suffered two yellow cards early in the second forty, but in front of their vociferous supporters we dealt with that sequence of events very well and still managed to dominate much of the second half.


“It was another massive effort by the team, and what impressed me was how we hit the pitch running. It was a long journey up and it rained hard this morning, and at times during the game, but we turned up in good spirits and then pointing the lads in the right direction was an easy job.  


“We were also keen to crank our performances up in an effort, as we move forward, to remain staying in the fight at the right end of the table.”


Caldy:   15 Matt Kilcourse (22 Lewis Barker, 47) 14 Nick Royle 13 Michael Cartmill 12 Connor Wilkinson 11 Ben Jones (23 Michael Barlow, 58) 10 Rhys Hayes 9 Joe Murray (21 Chris Pilgrim, 47); 1 Adam Aigbokhae (17 Ryan Higginson, 58) 2 Matt Gallagher (16 Nathan Langdon, 64) 3 Nathan Rushton (18 Joe Sproston, 45) 4 Callum Atkinson 5 Tom Sanders 6 Sam Dickinson (19 Martin Gerrard, 64) 7 Callum Ridgway (20 Sam Olyott, 64) 8 JJ Dickinson (captain).


Cornish Pirates:   15 Will Trewin 14 Frankie Nowell 13 Ioan Evans (23 Tom Georgiou, 59) 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Bruce Houston (22 Tom Pittman, 64) 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 60); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jack Andrew, 61) 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 60); 21 Ruaridh Dawson, 60) 3 Matt Johnson (18 Fin Richardson, 61) 4 Will Britton (19 Josh King, 64) 5 Steele Barker (20 Alex Everett, 61) 6 John Stevens (captain) 7 Will Gibson (16 Rhys Williams, 53; 7 Will Gibson, 60) 8 Hugh Bokenham.

Yellow cards: Alex Schwarz (49) Morgan Nelson (50)


Caldy – tries: Penalty try (50) Joe Sproston (79) con: Lewis Barker (80).

Cornish Pirates – tries: John Stevens (05) Will Trewin (23) Matt Johnson (27) Tom Georgiou (64) cons: Bruce Houston (09, 24, 65)

pens: Bruce Houston (61) Tom Pittman (76).

Referee:   Ian Tempest

Assistants:   Alex Thomas & James Clarke

Attendance:   1024

Match Officials


Ian Tempest


Alex Thomas


James Clark