22 October, 2017
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League / Cup
Brian had blown through the day previous – leaving only a breezy legacy come match day.
Just prior to kick off however, the power shown in the minute applause for local rugby legend – Brian ‘Stack’ Stevens – eclipsed anything the meteorological namesake could ever hoped to have mustered. It needed to – and who’s to say it didn’t add further fire to the bellies of those in a Pirates shirt – as Ulster blew into town on a mission.
With casualties mounting in Cornish ranks of late – it is no secret that anyone turning up with a pair of boots, stands a good chance of being shown into the changing rooms for a game.
Step up Redruth’s lynch pin, Chris Fuca and the promising young forward from ‘Town’, Kieran Westlake – who both rallied to the cause during the week, with their loan deals.
Both had a baptism of fire and with polar opposite outcomes. Kieran came on – put himself in the the thick of it – only to head back off ten minutes later after a clash of heads. Chris on the other hand put in the sort of 80 minute shift we somehow expected – his MoM fully merited. Indeed his contribution to a 20+ metre maul late in the second period was the stuff of legend. So close and it showed in his disappointment as Sir pinged him and his accomplices with the line only then 5m away!
By then of course the game was more or less won – needing only a couple of penalties from 50-up man, Cargill, who calmly slotted these pots – to deny the Ulstermen even a losing bonus point. Potentially crucial come progression into the knockout stages.
Two dot downs from emergency flanker, Tom Cowan-Dickie, earlier in the period – had set the course in assured fashion. Scores which further twisted the knife into the visitors’ ambitions – and emphasised the need to turn pressure into points.
This the men from Belfast had enjoyed in a first period, that saw them dominate most facets – apart from scoring. Irish international wing – Craig Gilroy – had been close on a couple of occasions. But otherwise their clear quality could not create much more in the way of chances – as the Cornishmen’s defence not only held firm, but often forced the team in white backwards. Even when heading forwards and – when AJ Cant warmed the chair on the sidelines for the obligatory yellow card – with numeric advantage.
A scoreless first forty now looked inevitable. Until that was – with the clock ticking away – the Pirates finally got their hands on the ball and made some headway. Ulster infringed 35m out having lost their momentum. Will stepped up and duly made amends for his miss in the opening exchanges – when everyone was still getting up to speed from the delayed start. The officials’ wiring being the culprit – we’ll leave it at that…
The Cornish Pirates never looked back. Tom C-D’s brace – although sandwiching a classy try from Gilroy – handed the initiative to the home side. An initiative that perfectly solid even when Ulster threatened to get back into contention as more injury worries appeared. Nico de Battista pulled up with a tweaked hamstring – whilst Tom himself looked to have done some damage before getting up and nailing his second score moments later.
But all ended well as not even Jones’ late try threatened briefly more than the extra point. The Pirates thus strengthened their hold at the top of their group – to remain unbeaten in two – to surely take some confidence back into their next block of league fixtures. A quest that begins next week at Doncaster’s Castle Park in front of the cameras of SKY. Easy as….
Nicolas De Battista
Schalk van der Merwe