With Cornwall For Cornwall

Gans Kernow Rag Kernow

Westholme, Alexandra Road,

Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY

Tel: 01736 331961 Email: [email protected]

Cornish Pirates 17

Ealing Trailfinders 26

5 April, 2024

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League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 16


Mennaye Field, Penzance




Cornish Pirates 17


Ealing Trailfinders 26

Phil Westren

Pirates Pipped in Close Encounter

By Phil Westren


Cornish Pirates 17   Ealing Trailfinders 26


Nearing the end of a match that was closely contested throughout, in challenging conditions visiting league leaders Ealing Trailfinders secured their victory thanks to a late converted try scored by lock Bobby De Wee.

On a night less than ideal weather wise, a large crowd was in attendance who just ahead of kick-off stood for a minute’s applause in respect of former Royal Marine and Penryn rugby player, James ‘Jim’ Henderson’, who was one of the aid workers so tragically killed in Gaza during the week.

There was only one change in the Pirates selection from the team that drew 27-all away to Doncaster Knights last time out. Prop Lefty Zigiriadis, who is an on loan Trailfinders player in the Pirates squad, sat this one out, with his place taken by stalwart Marlen Walker.

Under bright Friday night lights, and following pitch inspections that had taken place ahead of the game, the near 2,000 crowd of enthusiastic home supporters were soon quick to make themselves heard. Chants of ‘Oggy, Oggy, Oggy’ and ‘Pirates, Pirates’ filled the damp night air, and the team on the field duly responded.

After applying considerable pressure on their opponents, from a penalty award Pirates’ fly-half Bruce Houston fired the ball into the clubhouse corner, with prop Marlen Walker soon scoring the game’s opening try. In his testimonial year, it was his 25th five-pointer registered since arriving at the Pirates back in 2015.

Settling into the match, midway through the half the strong and talented visitors pulled three points back thanks to a penalty slotted through the boot of fly-half Craig Willis, before the Pirates soon disturbed the scoreboard operator once more. Play was briefly a little feisty, Houston kicked to the scoreboard corner from a penalty award, and following hooker Morgan Nelson’s short and successfully flat throw to the lineout, it was not long before Pirates’ skipper John Stevens made it over the line for a try to which Houston this time added the extras.

There would be one more try scored in the first half, which went the way of the visitors. Earning a penalty opportuning and opting to kick to the sanded old Western National Corner, a maul initially developed before the ball found the hands of Willis who kicked long and cleverly across the width of the field to enable former Ulster wing Angus Kernohan to score. The conversion from Willis was also on target to make the scoreline 12-10, which was as it stood at the break.

Into the second half, with incessant rain enhancing the glow of the lights, and spirits of supporters refusing to be dampened, the Trailfinders would though nudge ahead for the first time thanks to two penalties kicked by Willis who would ultimately contribute 16 points in the match.

The Ealing side had looked increasingly dominant in the second period, so entering the last quarter it was timely that the Pirates hit back. Runs by wing Matt McNab and then replacement scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson lifted the morale and noise level of the crowd, which then ended crescendo-like when McNab scored a wonderful try, unconverted, at the old Western National Corner.

This was a match that had shown passion and commitment aplenty, and in sodden April conditions the like of which have surely never been seen before. As for the outcome, Willis kicked another penalty and near the end converted the try scored by South Africa-born lock Bobby De Wee, which drew an ecstatic response from his colleagues. It also cruelly denied the Pirates even a losing bonus point, in a match where they had outscored their opponents, by three tries to two.

Speaking at the end of the encounter, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle, who was celebrating his birthday but obviously didn’t get the win present wanted, said:

“We missed out on crucial moments. There were a couple of opportunities in the first half where we missed a driving lineout, missed lineouts, and in such games those things add up.

“We said at halftime that we had scored off pushing the ball behind them, and it was all about who could get that sort of ascendancy in attack to create that.

“It was a difficult night weather wise, but you’ve got to hand it to Ealing in that they managed those moments better and edged us in that second forty. Having said that, when Matt scored our third try, I thought we had it, but it wasn’t to be.”

“The final result was a tough one to take but I am proud of the effort, with a ‘bodies on the line’ performance in difficult conditions, a lot of good scrambling back – all things that you want from a Pirates team and which were there in abundance.”

Cornish Pirates:   15 Kyle Moyle 14 Will Trewin (23 Arthur Relton, 68) 13 Ioan Evans 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Bruce Houston (22 Tom Pittman, 71) 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 53); 1 Marlen Walker (17 Jack Andrew, 70) 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 40, 1 Marlen Waljker, 74) 3 Matt Johnson (18 Fin Richardson, 70) 4 Will Britton (19 Josh King, 62) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett 7 John Stevens (captain; 20 Will Gibson, 57) 8 Hugh Bokenham.

Ealing Trailfinders:   15 Cian Kelleher 14 James Cordy-Redden 13 Reuben Bird-Tulloch 12 Pat Howard 11 Angus Kernohan 10 Craig Willis  9 Craig Hampson; 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke (17 Kyle Whyte, 50) 2 Matt Cornish (16 Mike Willemse, 50) 3 Biyi Alo (18 Jimmy Roots, 50; 3 Biyi Alo, 70) 4 Bobby De Wee 5 Andrew Davidson (19 Barney Maddison, 71) 6 David O’Connor 7 Richard Hardwick 8 Rayn Smid (captain; 20 Ollie Newman, 62).

Replacements (not used):   21 Lloyd Williams 22 Billy Twelvetrees 23 Dan O’Brien.


Cornish Pirates – tries: Marlen Walker (09) John Stevens (24) Matt McNab (62);

con: 10 Bruce Houston (25).

Ealing Trailfinders – tries: Angus Kernohan (31) Bobby De Wee (77)

cons: 10 Craig Willis (32, 77);

pens: Craig Willis (20, 47, 57, 66).


Referee:   Dan Jones


Assistants:   Craig Maxwell-Keys & Veryan Boscawen

‘Tribute’ Man of the Match:   Marlen Walker

Attendance:   1914

Match Officials


Dan Jones


Craig Maxwell-Keys


Veryan Boscowan