With Cornwall For Cornwall

Gans Kernow Rag Kernow

Westholme, Alexandra Road,

Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY

Tel: 01736 331961 Email: [email protected]

Cornish Pirates 33

Ampthill 14

10 March, 2024

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League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 14


Mennaye Field, Penzance




Cornish Pirates 33


Ampthill 14

Phil Westren

Welcoming Bedfordshire side Ampthill to the Mennaye Field for a Round 15 clash in the Championship, in difficult conditions the Cornish Pirates secured this deserved bonus point victory. Also, in the process, they held on to their second spot in the league.

Nicknamed ‘The ‘Mob’, who have on occasions in the past proved to be tricky customers, Ampthill arrived in Penzance on the back of a confidence boosting 35-12 bonus point win against London Scottish last time out.

As for the Pirates, they were looking to push on and complete the double against a side they beat 46-24 away in November, whilst for scrum-half Alex Schwarz the game proudly marked his 100thappearance for the club.

Team selection for the Pirates saw a prompt return to fitness for wing Robin Wedlake, as the only change in the backs. In the forwards Marlen Walker started at tight-head prop and skipper John Stevens moved from blindside flanker to number 8 in place of Hugh Bokenham, who was this week named to partner Will Britton in the second row.

On a heavy pitch it was the visitors who were perhaps surprisingly first to find their feet, with centre Olly Hartley, a recent performer in England A’s convincing win against Portugal, quick to make an impact. He was one of several Saracens associated players in Ampthills squad and, after linking with an ex ‘Wasp’ in full-back Tom Bacon, it was scrum-half Peter White, a former for Northampton ‘Saint’, who at the Newlyn gate corner scored the game’ s opening try. Welsh fly-half Gwyn Parks added the extras.

With Ampthill in continued confident mode, the Cornish Pirates needed a spark of inspiration to settle into the match, and it came in the 20th minute thanks initially to prop Lefty Zigiriadis. Running from his own ‘22’, he next kicked ahead, with support then given by centurion man Schwarz before wing Matt McNab followed up and pounced to score a try at the clubhouse corner. Fly-half Bruce Houston landed a fine conversion to level the scores.

After the restart, play was stationed deep in the Newlyn end of the field for a spell. White directed matters for Ampthill before pressure was eased for the Pirates firstly thanks to a kick from hand by centre Ioan Evans and shortly after a workmanlike maul. Then, following a penalty award, from a line-out on the left the ball was swiftly moved right from where full-back Will Trewin ran a line that saw him score a second converted try for the Pirates.

This was a more like it, but with better still to come before the break, as after Trewin make good yardage and centre Joe Elderkin grub-kicked smartly, it was McNab who scored once more. Houston’s excellent conversion attempt was again on the money, giving the Pirates a 21-7 half-time lead.

The first forty, though not perhaps satisfying rugby purists present, had nonetheless proved entertaining, whilst it was still too early for the home side to be complacent. A good start to the second period would help, so it was therefore pleasing that McNab soon secured his hat-trick and, in the process, the team’s four try bonus point. It was a spectacular effort as he gathered possession and tore down the right-hand touchline to score at the Newlyn gate corner.

As the half developed, the Pirates were put under occasional pressure which, just past the hour mark, led to ‘The Mob’ pulling seven points back with a converted try scored by Samson Adejimi. The young hooker has played for Saracens, as has one of their replacement props, Harvey Beaton, who on loan last season from ‘Sarries’ also featured 25 times for the Pirates.

To cement their win, the Pirates finally scored a fifth try through hooker Rhys Williams, with fellow replacement Tom Pittman on target with his conversion attempt.

Speaking at the conclusion of Sunday’s contest, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle commented:

The pitch was heavy, and we were off our game at the start. However, despite making errors we managed to pleasingly work our way into it and ultimately weather the storm.

“Having started to get a bit of momentum, we were seeing and trying to do the right things and there was a lot of space in the backfield, but defensively we were drifting which is normally a sign that we were not getting off the line.

“In the second half I don’t think we looked troubled, but it was difficult to get momentum, with the pitch again playing its part. It went to more of a kick game, with Bruce (Houston) doing well to steer us around the pitch, and I thought Lefty (Zigiriadis) again played with a lot of energy, plus he had the confidence to put his foot to ball as well. As for Matt (McNab), his impressive hat-trick was a reward for the graft and effort he makes, his kick chase and a lot of things you don’t always see.”

“Looking back the lads have been great overall, but we weren’t at our best today, and we’ll have to be better next up against Doncaster. They did a job on us at home and that will be our challenge in the next couple of weeks.”

Cornish Pirates:  15 Will Trewin (22 Tom Pittman, 72) 14 Robin Wedlake 13 Ioan Evans (23 Arthur Relton, 67) 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Bruce Houston 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 54); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jack Andrew, 61) 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 61) 3 Marlen Walker (18 Matt Johnson, 52) 4 Hugh Bokenham 5 Will Britton (19 Josh King, 61) 6 Alex Everett 7 Will Gibson (20 Doug Bridge, 58) 8 John Stevens (captain).

Ampthill:   15 Tom Bacon (23 Fraser Strachan, 69)14 Brandon Jackson 13 Francis Moore 12 Olly Hartley 11 Tobias Elliot 10 Gwyn Parks (22 Josh Barton, 72) 9 Pete White (21 Harri Williams, 50); 1 Sam Crean (17 Jasper McGuire, 62) 2 Samson Adejimi 3 James Johnston (18 Harvey Beaton, 53) 4 Ollie Stonham 5 Iwan Shenton (19 Griff Evans, 67) 6 Josh Smart (20 Izzy Moore-Aiono, 50) 7 Toby Knight 8 Morgan Strong (captain).

Replacement (not used):   16 Ben Pogson.


Cornish Pirates – tries: Matt McNab (20, 37, 46) Will Trewin (32) Rhys Williams (79); cons: Bruce Houston (21, 32, 37) Tom Pittman (80)                                                                                                                            Ampthill tries: Pete White (02) Samson Adejimi (62); cons: Gwyn Parks (03, 62)


Referee:   Hamish Grant

Assistants:   Neil Chivers & Kevin Williams

Cornish Pirates ‘Tribute’ Man of the Match:   Matt McNab

Attendance:   1247

Match Officials


Hamish Grant


Neil Chivers


Kevin Williams