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Hartpury 25

Cornish Pirates 30

13 April, 2024

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Championship Rugby Round 18


Hartpury University Stadium




Hartpury 25


Cornish Pirates 30

Phil Westren

Spirited Pirates Snatch Victory

And Move Back Up to Third in The Table

By Phil Westren


Hartpury 25    Cornish Pirates 30


Playing what ahead of the weekend was a 6th versus 4th Round 18 fixture in the Championship, at the end of a topsy turvy old game where three of their personnel spent second half minutes in the sin bin, the Cornish Pirates ultimately ended relieved winners thanks to an eightieth minute try scored by replacement prop Jacob Morris.

Changes in the Cornish Pirates starting line-up from the previous weekend’s encounter at home to Ealing Trailfinders had seen Ruaridh Dawson selected at scrum half and prop Lefty Zigiriadis returning at loose-head prop forward. Also, in the injured absence of Morgan Nelson (knee) and Rhys Williams (failed HIA), dual-registered Exeter Chiefs hooker Harry Hocking made first Championship start, whilst on the bench another ‘Chief’, Iestyn Harris, who arrived at the Mennaye Field on-loan during week, provided cover in the number 16 shirt.

The Hartpury team included three former Pirates in the home side, namely skipper and hooker Will Crane, Number 8 Jarrard Hayler, and fly-half Harry Bazalgette, and in slightly breezy but bright conditions it was the latter who kicked the game off at the Alpas Arena venue.

The opening period of the game also started brightly for Hartpury when in just the second minute full-back George Barton’s strong run saw him dent the Pirates’ defence and make it to the line for a try to which Bazalgette was luckless in adding the extras (5-0).

It was not long before the Cornish Pirates also opened their account, when following Hartpury having been penalised at the breakdown it was fly-half Bruce Houston who stepped forward, assessed the wind, and decided to kick for the posts, and successfully so (5-3).


Further points would follow for the Pirates when, following solid approach play by prop Lefty Zigiriadis, lock Steele Barker and wing Matt McNab, a resulting penalty award saw Houston this time opt for the corner, from where hooker Harry Hocking found his man at an attacking line-out opportunity and then, following a drive to the whitewash, was identified as the scorer of an unconverted try (5-8).

Hartpury would lose their captain Crane to the sin bin, but a Bazalgette penalty would level matters (8-8).

Soon after the restart, the Pirates produced some excellent play involving backs and forwards, with their continuity and phase play ending with skipper John Stevens scoring a try at the posts to which Houston this time added the extras (8-15).


But the first half scoring didn’t stop there, as five minutes before halftime an interception by wing Matt McNab saw him go clear and score a converted try against his former team (8-22). The try also marked the powerful wing’s twelfth for the Pirates in all games this season.


In time remaining before the break, Hartpury’s scrum-half Mike Austin, who hails from Falmouth and has played for Cornwall, continued to play with purpose, and Barton again threatened. However, when the Pirates stole possession, it was Houston who happily kicked the ball off the field for halftime to arrive with the Pirates having built what appeared a healthy lead.


Into the second period, the Pirates got off anything but a sought-after start. The penalty-count suddenly went against them, and after awarded a penalty try Hartpury looked to take advantage. They were also aided in considering that within the space of 11 minutes the Pirates were shown three yellow cards, which nobody would have predicted. In order the trio comprised lock Will Britton, Number 8 Hugh Bokenham, and prop Matt Johnson.


This all inevitably created considerable pressure on the depleted Pirates, and with full-back Kyle Moyle and centre Joe Elderkin adding important weight when called upon at scrum time, this contest had now developed into a real test of character.


Into the last quarter the Pirates were still holding on to their 22-15 lead, but that would soon change. From a lineout drive, Hartpury’s replacement hooker Ethan Hunt broke off and scored a converted try at the posts, to again draw level (22-22), and a superb penalty strike by Bazalgette, from two metres inside his own half, then put Hartpury ahead (25-22).


Having drawn and lost their last two outings, the Cornish Pirates were desperately keen to avoid going three games without a win, and to their considerable credit they did. Fresh off the bench replacement fly-half Tom Pittman firstly landed a penalty (to make it 25-25), and although he narrowly missed an attempted long-range kick at goal, it was an unconverted try scored by replacement prop Jacob Morris, which followed a vital example of counter play from Moyle, that in the very last seconds proved all important. Refusing to bow, had delivered the Pirates the victory (25-30), a bonus point, plus to boot they moved back up to third in the table. Hey, at the end it was a case of ‘Wow’, and well done!

Speaking after the final whistle, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:

“Some people might say it was a get of jail free card, but I thought that in the first half we showed enough dominance even though we didn’t convert that fully on the scoreboard.

“At the start of the second half it was a defensive maul that we suffered our first two yellow cards, which we managed pretty well, despite it obviously impacting. We then, of course, got a third yellow card and I have to say the referee got it right. It was a desperate time, and players do desperate things, and it something we will look at.

“On general reflection, what let us down a bit was our speed to the breakdown and our maul defence, which is normally our strength, but there was credit due our two debutant hookers today. Harry (Hocking) did well and Iestyn (Harris) coming in late this week was a naturally a tough ask.

“We have put in better performances and come away with less, but ultimately getting five points from the match is as much as we could have asked for, so we’ll take that.”

Hartpury:   15 George Barton 14 Alex Forrester (22 Jack Reeves, 69) 13 Louis Hillman-Cooper 12 Tommy Mathews (23 Robbie Smith, 66) 11 Alex Morgan 10 Harry Bazalgette 9 Mike Austin; 1 James Gibbons (17 Aristot Benz-Salomon, 56) 2 Will Crane (captain; 16 Ethan Hunt, 65) 3 Jon Benz-Salomon (18 Joe Rees, 65) 4 Dale Lemon 5 Jack Davies 6 Josh Gray 7 Harry Short (19 Mitch Eadie, 61) 8 Jarrard Hayler (20 Harry Beddall, 65).

Replacement (not used):   21 Joe Williams.

Yellow card:   2 Will Crane (22).

Cornish Pirates:   15 Kyle Moyle 14 Will Trewin (23 Arthur Relton 64) 13 Ioan Evans 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Matt McNab 10 Bruce Houston (22 Tom Pittman, 52) 9 Ruaridh Dawson (21 Alex Schwarz, 60); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jacob Morris 2 Harry Hocking (16 Iestyn Harris, 58) 3 Matt Johnson (18 Fin Richardson 4 Will Britton (19 Josh Williams, 64) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett (18 Fin Richardson, 56; 6 Alex Everett, 64; 20 Will Gibson, 64) 7 John Stevens (captain) 8 Hugh Bokenham.

Yellow cards:  Will Britton (44) 8 Hugh Bokenham (45) Matt Johnson (55).

Hartpury – tries: George Barton (02) Penalty try (45) Ethan Hunt (68); con: 10 Harry Bazalgette (69); pens: Harry Bazalgette (28, 72). Cornish Pirates – tries:  Harry Hocking (16) John Stevens (32) Matt McNab (35) Jacob Morris (80); cons: Bruce Houston (33, 36); pens: Bruce Houston (05) Tom Pittman (74).

Referee:   Alex Thomas

Assistants:   Ian Bibey & Jonathan Healy

Attendance:   1218

Match Officials


Alex Thomas


Ian Bibey


Jonathan Healey