2 September, 2022
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League / Cup
Rekindling memories of a last such pre-season encounter played back in 2018, when the Pirates won 29-21, the home team emerged victorious once more, and in front of another jubilant sell-out crowd.
In a Pirates team skippered by club captain John Stevens, and missing just a few players injured, there were six new arrivals in the pack, including hooker Will Crane who scored a hat-trick in the club’s recent pre-season win away to Taunton Titans. Harvey Beaton started at prop, James Fender and Will Britton formed the second-row pairing, and in the back row former England sevens man Seb Nagle-Taylor was selected at number 8 and Alex Everett on the blind side. As for the backs, all starters were members of last season’s squad.
On the bench hooker Morgan Nelson, prop Matt Johnson (a new face), lock Josh Williams, and backrower Olly White (also a new face) were all keen to make their home debuts.
Selected in the Exeter Chiefs side were three players dual-registered with the Pirates, namely wing Arthur Relton, centre Tommy Wyatt, and lock Cory Teague. Also, on the bench, was ‘Pirate’ Jarrard Hayler, who was guesting for the Devon side.
With the old Mennaye Field ground looking at its very best, the atmosphere in the build up to kick-off was simply terrific, on what was also a perfect evening for playing rugby football.
Match underway, Nagle-Taylor soon had the crowd on its feet. All about thought he had scored at the Newlyn posts, before it was shortly after declared a false alarm, after he was adjudged to have been held up over the line by Chiefs’ skipper Joe Simmonds.
The Pirates, however, would soon get their just reward, when early pack power led to a try scored by Crane, to which fly-half Harry Bazalgette added the extras.
As the home team dominated possession, a second converted try followed. Exeter’s Kiwi prop Josh Iosefa-Scott fell foul of the referee with a show of petulance, which led referee Mr. Foley forcing the visitors back an extra 10 metres after a penalty had been awarded. From territory attained a driving maul ended with Crane once again the scorer, his second try of the match adding to hat-trick recently registered in the friendly away to Taunton Titans.
A third converted try for the Pirates was once again the result of pack power, with prop Marlen Walker this time the scorer.
Bright moments in the first forty were all but non-existent for the visiting Chiefs, but for two exciting breaks made from scrum-half Tom Cairns. There was credit to the Pirates for defending the threats magnificently, and half-time arrived with the score reading 21-0.
There was a sense that the visitors would perhaps at some stage click into gear, and to a degree they did in the third quarter of the match. Former Connacht centre Sean O’Brien scored a fine try at the old Western National corner, which was converted by Simmonds, and a deft cross-field kick from Simmonds also created a score for Kian Gentry, to which he also added the conversion. In between, however, the Pirates created their fourth try of the night, with prop Beaton identified as the scorer at the Penzance posts. Replacement fly-half Arwel Robson slotted the conversion.
After backs next joined forwards to deliver a potent driving maul to the left, the Pirates extended their lead through a converted try scored by replacement hooker Morgan Nelson, with the evening’s entertainment then ultimately concluding with yet another converted try. Wing Robin Wedlake and replacement centre Shae Tucker linked cleverly, culminating in the latter diving in at the scoreboard corner.
There had been much to please the big crowd, as there was also Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle, who after the game commented:
“Although we knew that Exeter were not at full strength, they still had a lot of talent in their squad and it was a good test. It was also pleasing that the big crowd enjoyed the game, which for us provided another good workout.
“On an evening when our driving maul was the headline, you have to look at how we gained those opportunities, which is the result of things worked on in pre-season. We were able to exploit them in terms of turnover attack and the 50-22s, to then take advantage.
“I thought the players brought physicality and kept their discipline to keep the penalty count low, which was a big improvement on the Taunton game. John Stevens also led by action from the start and the back row in general went really well.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Carwyn Penny 14 Robin Wedlake 13 Rory Parata 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Callum Sirker 10 Harry Bazalgette 9 Tom Kessell; 1 Marlen Walker 2 Will Crane 3 Harvey Beaton 4 James Fender 5 Will Britton 6 Alex Everett, 7 John Stevens (captain) 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor.
Replacements: Morgan Nelson, Jack Andrew, Hayden King, Josh Williams, Will Gibson, Olly White, Alex Schwarz, Ruaridh Dawson, Arwel Robson, Shae Tucker, AJ Cant (all used); Matt Johnson (not used).
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Dan John 14 Arthur Relton 13 Sean O’Brien 12 Tommy Wyatt 11 Benjy Joseland 10 Joe Simmonds (captain) 9 Tom Cairns; 1 Billy Keast 2 Jack Innard 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott 4 Todd Muil 5 Cory Teague 6 Josh Thorne 7 Ross Vincent 8 Will De Boehimer.
Replacements: Oli Burrows, Danny Southworth, Fin Richardson, Jarrard Hayler, Ben Hammersley, Archie Hill, Kian Gentry.
Cornish Pirates – tries: Crane (2), Walker, Beaton, Nelson, Tucker; cons: Bazalgette (3), Robson (3).
Exeter Chiefs – tries: O’Brien, Gentry; cons: Simmonds (2).
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU)
Assistants: Kevin Williams & James Milliner-Woodcock
Performance Reviewer/Coach: Peter Huckle
‘Tribute’ Man-of-the-Match: John Stevens
John Stevens (C)
Joe Simmonds (C)
Will De Boehlmer