8 September, 2023
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League / Cup
Well, this long-awaited opening Premiership Rugby Cup game – a first ever for the Pirates – was played out in front of a big crowd at an atmospheric floodlit Mennaye Field on Friday night.
Two evenly match sides comprised a talented young Bath outfit littered with under 20 internationals and several players with Premiership experience, playing against a new look Pirates outfit who have worked hard and were keen to give a good account of themselves.
For this competitive match opener, the Pirates named five summer arrivals in their starting XV. The quartet comprised full-back Kyle Moyle, who has made a welcome return to the club from Gloucester, centre Matt McNab, fly-half Tom Pittman, recent lock signing Josh King, and prop Leftheri Zigiriadis.
As for the bench, five of the eight who featured in the pre-season friendlies versus Plymouth Albion, were ready to play their first competitive match fixtures for the Pirates. They were hooker Rhys Williams, prop Fin Richardson, backrower Harry Dugmore, fly-half Iwan Jenkins, and centre Ioan Evans.
Just ahead of kick-off a minute’s applause took place in respect of 17-year-old Logan Treloar, a young Cornishman who played for Truro College and has recently passed away. Yellow arm bands were also worn by the Pirates in recognition of Logan’s bright blond hair.
Match underway, after Bath’s fly-half George Worboys kicked the game off it was the home side who dominated the early exchanges. Dicky Evans, who was making a welcome return to the Mennaye Field, look rightly pleased with the initial play, with the scrum looking particularly solid. Also, a kickable penalty on offer was an early reward for the Pirates, which in the eighth minute Pittman duly slotted through the Newlyn posts.
Bath, however, were quick to respond, and soon applying pressure deep inside the Penzance half of the ground it was their skipper, lock Ewan Richards, who eventually defied Pirates’ defensive efforts to power and stretch over near the posts for a try converted by Worboys.
A second Pittman penalty pulled three points back for the Pirates who then proceeded to regain the lead. Number 8 Ben Grubb gathered a high ball some 40 metres out, and with play taken to the Newlyn line he scored a fine but unconverted try.
This was proving a good even contest, ideal for the teams and appreciated by supporters, including a fair contingent of Bath representatives who were pleased to see their team respond once more when, following a catch and drive at the clubhouse corner, it was hooker John Stewart who scored a try that gave the visitors a narrow 15-11 halftime lead.
Early in the second half the Pirates were again in clinical mode at scrum time which, coincidental or otherwise, suddenly led to the visitors replacing their whole front-row.
Holding territory for a spell inside the Penzance half of the field also provided home promise, only for Bath to suddenly break down the left through wing Will Muir and Worboys, ending with the latter scoring a try at the Newlyn posts to which he also added the extras.
The Pirates would now introduce their fair share of replacements, with the fresh legs appearing to have an impact. A second try for the team would materialise after replacement fly-half Iwan Jenkins firstly kicked cleverly right, enabling man of the match wing Will Trewin to put on the burners, which he did in style, to score wide on the right. Jenkins also landed the conversion.
In now light rain on an otherwise balmy evening the Pirates were still in touch, although heads could easily have dropped after Bath’s full-back Sam Harris took to the air when diving over the line for a final converted try for the men in blue, black and white.
To their credit, despite a 18-29 scoreline, the Pirates maintained their focus and determination in the final minutes, with no better example than that shown by Moyle who went full throttle to chase another Jenkins’ kick and in miraculous fashion apply required downward pressure at the scoreboard corner.
The conversion missed, but there was still time to snatch an unlikely victory which, despite best efforts, did not quite materialise. Overall, however, the win for the visiting Bath team was deserved, as was indeed a losing bonus point for the Pirates.
Speaking at the end of Friday night’s contest, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:
“First and foremost, Bath fully deserved their win. There were some unforced errors that they took advantage of and there were momentum swings in the game, but identity wise we scrapped to the end which was a positive for me.
“Looking at the first half Bath just won those fifty fifties, such as when the ball was in their air, and that dictated field position, and although we were also disappointed with some of our execution and certain aspects of our game, we are not too downhearted and know the commitment is there.
“We are also of course learning from this present group of players and know where time is needed in our training and what we need to sharpen up on. But, overall, the effort was pleasing, we can take much from the game, and scoring three good tries a great crowd enjoyed the evening.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle 14 Will Trewin 13 Matt McNab (23 Ioan Evans, 51) 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Arthur Relton, 10 Tom Pittman (22 Iwan Jenkins, 51) 9 Ruaridh Dawson (21 Alex Schwarz, 62); 1 Leftheri Zigiriadis (18 Jack Andrew, 51) 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 62) 3 Marlen Walker (17 Fin Richardson, 53) 4 Josh King (19 Steele Barker, 62) 5 Will Britton 6 John Stevens (captain; 20 Harry Dugmore, 54) 7 Will Gibson 8 Ben Grubb.
Bath Rugby: 15 Sam Harris 14 Gabe Goss (23 Louie Hennessey, 54) 13 Max Wright 12 Will Butt 11 Will Muir 10 George Worboys 9 Tom Carr-Smith; 1 Arthur Cordwell (17 Mikey Summerfield, 45) 2 John Stewart (16 Jasper Spandler, 45) 3 Archie Griffin (18 Kieran Verden, 45) 4 Fergus Lee-Warner 5 Ewan Richards (captain) 6 JJ Tonks 7 Ethan Staddon (20 Thompson Cowan, 74) 8 Jaco Coetzee (19 Nahum Merigan, 51).
Replacements (not used): 21 Murdoch Lock 22 Ciaran Donoghue.
Cornish Pirates – Tries: Ben Grubb (27) Will Trewin (64) Kyle Moyle (76);
Cons: Iwan Jenkins (65);
Pens: Tom Pittman (8, 23).
Bath Rugby – Tries: Ewan Richards (12) (John Stewart (37) George Worboys (37) Sam Harris (71);
Cons: George Worboys (12, 52, 72);
Pen: George Worboys (34).
Referee: Hamish Grant
Assistants: Kevin Williams & Paul Dix
‘Tribute’ Man of the Match: Will Trewin
(In Round 2 of the Premiership Rugby Cup, the Cornish Pirates next player Exeter Chiefs away next Saturday – kick-off 3pm at Sandy Park)