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Ealing Trailfinders 40

Cornish Pirates 12

16 December, 2023

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League / Cup

Championship Rugby Round 7


Trailfinders Sports Club




Ealing Trailfinders 40


Cornish Pirates 12

Phil Westren

Playing Ealing Trailfinders away on Saturday in a 1stversus 2nd in the Championship clash, the Cornish Pirates expected to face a massive challenge, and so it proved against a fully focused home selection.Suffering three yellow cards also, inevitably, did not help the Pirates cause.

This game at the Trailfinders Sports Ground was a re-scheduled Round 7 affair, remembering that the original fixture in mid-December was abandoned, a decision made midway through the second half after Cornish Pirates’ replacement Ben Grubb was injured.

Changes in the Cornish Pirates line up from the team that won 27-21 at Bedford Blues last weekend sawprop Jacob Morris selected at loose-head prop in place of the unavailable Lefty Zigiriadis, Ruaridh Dawson named in the ‘9’ shirt to partner Tom Pittman, plus there was a return for skipper John Stevens in the back row.

Bruce Houston and stalwart prop Jack Andrew were two players pleasingly declared fit again to takeplaces on the bench, with the latter ready to make his 230th appearance for the club.

Former 22 times capped England international centre Billy Twelvetrees kicked the game off for the home side, who were quickly into their stride to in the process dominate the early proceedings.

Tries scored by hooker Matt Cornish, following an attacking line-out, and then one for former Wales wing Jonah Holmes, who was gifted space to breeze in from 10 metres, set the tone, with both efforts converted by the experienced Twelvetrees.

It was anything but the start sought by the Cornish Pirates, although they would hit back with a try scored at the posts by full-back Will Trewin, which was converted by fly-half Tom Pittman.

A third converted try for the Ealing team, with just a quarter of the game gone, was next scored by centre Reuben Bird-Tulloch, who was celebrating his 50thrun out in the Trailfinders’ green and white, with it abundantly clear that they had selected a particularly strong selection for this encounter, and one that would fully test the Pirates.

The penalty count against the visitors continued to worryingly rise, and after the Trailfinders opted next to kick to the corner, they secured the line-out ball through lock Bobby De Wee. It looked as if former Gloucester flanker Jordy Reid had scored a four try bonus point for the Ealing team. Thankfully he was held up, enabling the Pirates to clear the danger with a goal line drop-out. However, when a first yellow card was shown to winger Matt McNab, it naturallyfurther hampered their cause.

The Trailfinders were clearly fully focused, and after their play created further pressure upon the Pirates, the Cornish side temporarily went down to 13 men after prop Jacob Morris was shown the team’s second yellow card.

Surely securing the four try bonus point was now a formality for the home outfit, and so it soon proved with an unconverted effort in the corner scored by replacement James Cordy-Redden. The scoreboard now read 26-7, which is how it remained to the break.

After the teams emerged from the changing rooms for the start of the second period, it was not long before McNab was thankfully back in action, but there was still several minutes to run on Morris’s sinbinning, and at a time when the Pirates needed to score next to give them any hope of working their way back into this contest.

When back to a full complement of players the Pirates started to put a little pressure on their hosts, only to then suffer a third yellow card when it was centre Joe Elderkin who seemingly made a high tackle.

Could the Pirates dream of a recovery? Yes, of course, but the head and reality would say otherwise, and it was a view likely confirmed when Cordy-Redden notched a second try of the afternoon, that Twelvetrees this time converted.

The 33-7 scoreline rubber-stamped the Trailfinders authority, but showing some resolve and after enjoying their best period of possession in the game the Pirates eventually scored their second try of the match. It was replacement hooker Rhys Williamswho powered over from close range, but replacement fly-half Bruce Houston’s conversion attempt unluckily rebounded off a post.

The Pirates were holding territorial advantage but the Trailfinders, besides proving potent with ball in hand, also showed themselves to be mean when in defensive mode. At the very end they also took their points tally to 40, with a try scored by replacement Dan O’Brien and a successful conversion off the tee by Bird-Tulloch.

A 40-12 scoreline, and a six to two try-count made it a comprehensive victory for the Trailfinders, but in also completing a set of three particularly difficult games away on the trot for the Pirates against Coventry, Bedford Blues and then league leaders Ealing Trailfinders, winning the first two were tremendous achievements and, although disappointment was natural, there was no disgrace in losing away to the inevitably strong Trailfinders side that hold advantages in resource, both financially and in squad number availability.

Yes, for the Cornish Pirates on the day it was a step too far but hey, as ‘Meat Loaf’ once sang ‘Two out of three ain’t bad’.

Speaking at the end of Saturday’s contest, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach, Gavin Cattle, said:

“It was a match where Ealing’s power game in the first half enabled them to apply a lot of pressure in our final third and you could see our energy wasn’t at the level it has been these past couple of weeks. If you get that first collision wrong on this pitch, then it is hard to get any momentum back.

“We had some stern words at half time, but I have to say that again we showed a bit of grit and got that emotion back up in the second half and made it a bit more of an arm wrestle.

“Overall, I am pleased that we went well in the first two of our block of three difficult away games, though we today just couldn’t replicate the energy witnessed in the first two, albeit it against a top team, and one that is fully resourced.

“Our yellow cards didn’t help but then again you wouldn’t say that it was ill discipline. Macca’s (Matt McNab’s) was a rush of blood on a high ball and Jacob Morris’s was the result of accumulative pressure through their power game, plus I also think we were on the right side of the penalty count in the second half.

Gavin added:

“Ahead of the last three games we called the blockones to embrace and grind, which the boys did so well in the first two. As for today we knew we were pushing the luck in terms of energy because we have played a lot of rugby since Christmas, and with a small squad. It’s hard to keep that emotion level up there, and it’s impossible to be at the top of your game every week, though we did respond in the second half.

“To reflect further on the block of the three away games we have to say ‘Well done’, because it’s been a good shift and we have set ourselves up for the second half of the season.

We will want to continue contesting in the top area of the table but, at the same time for us, it is about the level of performance, and can we push our game model on and keep developing, which, despite thedefeat today, I believe we saw bits of in the second half. But one thing is for sure, we have to keep that emotion and required physicality week in and week out in this league. If we can get consistency in those areas, then it should bode well.”

Ealing Trailfinders:   15 Michael Dykes (22 Dan O’Brien, 43) 14 Jonah Holmes 13 Reuben Bird-Tulloch 12 Billy Twelvetrees 11 Tom Collins (23 James Cordy-Redden, 19) 10 Dan Lancaster 9 Craig Hampson (21 Lloyd Williams, 73); 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke (17 Kyle Whyte, 60) 2 Matt Cornish (16 Mike Willemse, 65) 3 Biyi Alo (18 Jimmy Roots, 60) 4 Bobby De Wee 5 Barney Maddison (captain; 19 Danny Cutmore, 65) 6 Rob Farrar (20 Ollie Newman, 73) 7 Jordy Reid 8 Will Montgomery.

Cornish Pirates:   15 Will Trewin 14 Robin Wedlake (23 Frankie Nowell, 66) 13 Joe Jenkins 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Tom Pittman (22 Bruce Houston, 46) 9 Ruaridh Dawson (21 Alex Schwarz, 46); 1 Jacob Morris (17 Jack Andrew 2 Morgan Nelson (16 Rhys Williams, 46) 3 Fin Richardson (18 Matt Johnson, 40) 4 Will Britton (19Josh King, 66) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett 7 John Stevens (captain) 8 Hugh Bokenham (17 Jack Andrew, 43; 8 Hugh Bokenham, 46; 20 Will Gibson, 46).

Yellow cards:  Matt McNab (31) Jacob Morris (34) Joe Elderkin (49).


Ealing Trailfinders – tries: Matt Cornish (03) Jonah Holmes (12) Reuben Bird-Tulloch (18) James Cordy-Redden (35, 54) Dan O’Brien (80);

cons: Billy Twelvetrees (04, 14, 19, 55) Reuben Bird-Tulloch (80).  

Cornish Pirates – tries: Will Trewin (15) Rhys Williams (64)

cons: (Tom Pittman, 16).

Referee:   Alex Thomas  

Assistants:   Jonathan Cook & Michael Woods

Attendance:   732