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Cornish Pirates 45

Cambridge 18

21 April, 2024

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League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 19


Mennaye Field, Penzance




Cornish Pirates 45


Cambridge 18

Phil Westren

Second Half Comeback Seals the Win

By Phil Westren


Cornish Pirates 45   Cambridge 18


Playing this Round 19 fixture in the Championship at home to basement side Cambridge, in most welcome fine conditions – at last! – the third-placed Cornish Pirates recovered from being 18-14 down at halftime to ultimately win 45-18.


This was a third meeting between the two sides this season, remembering that the Pirates emerged victorious 64-17 away to Cambridge in the Premiership Cup in September, and followed that up with a much closer 40-33 league win at Cambridge’s Ellgia Fields ground in January.

Of general interest, Cambridge had played the Pirates at the Mennaye Field just once before, when in 1998 they lost 32-13 in a Tetley’s Bitter Cup tie.


There were several changes in the Cornish Pirates line-up from the one that started in the previous weekend’s 30-25 victory away to Hartpury. In the backs, Tom Pittman was named at fly-half and Arthur Relton on the wing, whilst in the forwards Fin Richardson came in at tight-head prop and Hugh Bokenham moved up into the second row. Hugh’s place at Number 8 was taken by skipper John Stevens, who played in the ‘7’ shirt the previous week, which for this game was worn by Will Gibson. On the bench, and keen to make his debut for the Pirates, was on-loan Exeter ‘Chief’ Hallam Chapman.


This was a game where the Pirates looked strangely lack lustre at the start, with the visitors, nicknamed the ‘Blood & Sand’, also keen to test and pick themselves up following a hefty 43-13 defeat against an improved London Scottish the previous weekend.


Opening the scoring in this the game was wing Eli Caven, a former Glasgow ‘Warrior’, who crossed at the scoreboard corner. Fly-half Steff James was luckless adding the extras, however he shortly after made no mistake with a successful penalty strike from in front of the posts.


Going 8-nil down appeared as a wake-up call for the home side, as all but from the restart scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson dotted the ball down near the Newlyn posts for a try converted by his halfback partner Tom Pittman.


The Pirates soon pressed for a second score, and went close on several occasions, only to be thwarted through a combination of self-made mistakes, gifting penalties away, and there a level of credit too to their opposition. Then, to add to increasing levels of frustration, Caven secured possession and weaved his way to the line once again.


Just past the half hour mark, a second try for the Pirates lifted home morale for a spell, with centre Ioan Evans the scorer and Pittman again adding the extras. But, after the Pirates lost their skipper John Stevens to the sin bin, Cambridge wing Kwaku Asiedu ran 35 metres with power and pace to score an unconverted try at the clubhouse corner, which made the scoreline 14-18 at the break.


The Pirates now had the challenge to aim for a much improved second forty, albeit full credit to their visitors for their first half performance. How would it pan out? We would see.


Well, the Blood & Sand soon lost centre Sam Hanks to the sin bin after he made a deliberate knock-on, and with penalties now coming the Pirates way, when three kickable opportunities were up for grabs it was Pittman who stepped forward on each occasion to by the hour mark give his team a 28-18 lead.


Yes, the Pirates were now in the ascendancy, and with fullback Kyle Moyle running from deep, and with man of the match Alex Everett displaying accustomed determination, it was not long before the former scored a well worked try at the scoreboard corner.


Cambridge flanker Ben Adams had been shown a yellow card, and replacement wing Robin Wedlake also soon scored the Pirates bonus point proving fourth, and converted, try.


In time remaining the Pirates extended their lead thanks to a fine chip and chase score from wing Matt McNab, and then yet another by Wedlake.


The Pirates had ‘nilled’ their opponents in the second period, the sudden improvements in their performance one no doubt impressing watching guest and television presenter Nick Knowles, who knows a little bit about restoration.


Commenting at the end of the game, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:


“Look, our performance in the first half was naturally disappointing, because if players drop off individually then the collective effort also drops and that is what it looked like.


“I thought that John Stevens was unlucky to be yellow carded, as in his efforts he was trying to spark up the team, which was just what we needed, and you could just tell by the body language that for whatever reasons hadn’t got the energy levels right.


“Thankfully, in the second half, we found our way to put certain things together that made us look something like a Pirates team, with Alex Everett to the fore and Moyler (Kyle Moyle) also helping to ignite our play as he is finding his form again.”


Cornish Pirates:  15 Kyle Moyle (22 Bruce Houston, 70) 14 Arthur Relton 13 Ioan Evans (23 Robin Wedlake, 44) 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Tom Pittman 9 Ruaridh Dawson (21 Alex Schwarz, 50); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jacob Morris, 58) 2 Harry Hocking (16 Iestyn Harris, 28) 3 Fin Richardson (18 Matt Johnson, 53) 4 Hugh Bokenham (19 Josh King, 60) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett 7 Will Gibson (20 Hallam Chapman, 67) 8 John Stevens (captain).


Yellow card:   8 John Stevens (34).

Cambridge:   15 Joe Tarrant (21 Lawrence Rayner, 78) 14 Kwaku Asiedu 13 Sam Hanks 12 Matt Williams (22 Tom Hoppe, 68) 11 Eli Caven 10 Steff James 9 Kieran Duffin; 1 Jake Ellwood (17 Huw Owen, 50) 2 Ben Brownlie (16 Archie Vanes, 59) 3 Billy Walker (18 Matt Collins, 35; Billy Walker 40; 18 Matt Collins, 50) 4 George Bretag Norris (captain) 5 Gareth Baxter 6 Ben Adams (20 Morgan Veness, 78) 7 Jared Cardew (19 Noah Sloot, 64) 8 Nahum Merrigan (23 Anthony Maka, 25).

Yellow cards:   13 James Hanks (43) 6 Ben Adams (63).


Cornish Pirates – tries: Ruaridh Dawson (16) Ioan Evans (31) Kyle Moyle (65) Robin Wedlake (69, 79) 11 Matt McNab (77); cons: Tom Pittman (16, 32, 70) pens: Tom Pittman (44, 50, 58).

Cambridge – tries: Eli Caven (05, 26) Kwaku Asiedu (39); pen: Steff James (14).


‘Tribute’ Man-of-the-Match:   Alex Everett.

Match Officials


Andy Wigley


Neil Chivers


Ryan Collier