15 September, 2017
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League / Cup
Aware from ‘A’ that their three opening games in this season’s Greene King IPA Championship would be ‘toughies’, the outcome has proved it. However, the ultimate losses suffered could just have easily been a victorious trio, such has been the close nature of all three contests.
For this contest, played under Friday night floodlights at Jersey’s newly named Stade Santander International ground, St. Peter, changes for the Cornish side from the team that started their opening two games against Ealing Trailfinders and Bristol Rugby saw Pete Laverick named at outside centre and Matt Bolwell selected at open-side flanker. Listed among the replacements, fit again back-rower Tom Duncan was also keen to make his first Championship appearance of the season.
For the home side there was a late change when chosen skipper and full-back, South African-born Scott van Breda, had to withdraw because of injury. A shuffle in personnel saw Jason Worrall move from the wing, with his number 11 shirt taken by replacement Ellis Abrahams.
Conditions at St. Peter, where the Pirates hadn’t won in the Championship since September, 2012, were a little breezy when they kicked the game off – the start put back just a quarter of an hour following the Pirates late arrival because of a flight delay.
Early pressure applied by Jersey Reds saw them open the scoring in the seventh minute, when a long pass found the hands of wing Tom Pincus who crossed for a try out wide. The conversion attempt from fly-half Brendan Cope missed.
To their credit the Pirates responded positively, and after attacking with purpose the award of a penalty saw fly-half Laurence May strike the ball cleanly between the posts.
In general it was Jersey Reds who were having the best of the opening exchanges, and this was confirmed midway through the first period when their second try, scored again by Pincus, was this time converted by Cope.
Bouncing back, a converted maiden try for the Pirates from Laverick, following good work by his midfield compatriot and skipper Nicolas De Battista, reminded home supporters that the night’s opposition clearly still posed a threat. However, when prop Jack Andrew was yellow-carded the advantage for all but the rest of the half was surely handed back to the Reds.
As the minutes ticked to the break it looked as if the Pirates would hold out. They nearly did, only for their valiant defensive effort to be broken all but on the half-time whistle when, in sprinkling rain, stand-in home captain and prop Roy Godfrey scored a converted try. A 19-10 interval lead was one that the enterprising Jersey team deserved. Theirs was also very much a new-look side selected by head coach Harvey Biljon, it comprising a cosmopolitan mix of personnel.
It was evident that for a third game running the Pirates were to be fully tested, so during the interval thoughts questioned whether they could once again respond, to at least get a point, or two, from this match. It was also remembered that games between the two teams have invariably been close over the years.
An encouraging start to the second half was sought, and it was duly delivered when May slotted his second successful penalty of the night.
Approaching the last quarter play was evenly contested, the hope from a Pirates perspective that they could once again display their fitness levels and finish strongly. Tom Duncan also got his call off the bench, likewise another former Redruth man in Ollie Bryant, but in his case for the home side.
Following a catch and drive, the Reds looked to build for another score, whilst in response the Pirates displayed determination in defence and with the award of a penalty were able to clear the danger.
Acquiring second half points were hard to come by for both sides, so when the Pirates took play deep into the Jersey team’s half their supporters were keen to play their part by making themselves heard.
Fitness and accustomed spirit saw the visitors finish strongly, but at the end it just wasn’t enough. They had in the second half commendably denied Jersey from adding to their first half tally, whilst in the process their one score in the period at least earned them a losing bonus point. A natural frustration for the Pirates, however, was that victory eluded them for a third closely fought contest on the trot.
Commenting after the game, Cornish Pirates coach Alan Paver said:
“Credit to our lads for once again giving their all, as they will for the rest of this season. However, a lack of discipline meant we gave too many penalties away and our set piece didn’t function as we would have liked it to.
“The 80 minutes were well contested, with the usual arm wrestle and both sides showing good spirit. We always knew it would be tough, and although almost cancelling ourselves out, the final scoreline against a well drilled Jersey team gives a fair reflection of the match.”
15 Jason Worrall, 14 Tom Pincus, 13 Mark Best (Ollie Bryant 41),
12 R Ratu RatuApakuki Ma’afu, 11 Ellis Abrahams (Joel Dudley 73),
10 Brendan Cope, Ratu Ma’afu, 10 Brendan Cope, 9 Kieran Hardy;
1 Roy Godfrey (c, Jake Woolmore 50), 2 Jared Saunders (Nick Selway 70),
3 Jake Armstrong (Leeroy Atalifo 54), 4 Dave McKern (Rory Bartle 28),
5 Jerry Sexton, 6 Matt Rogerson, 7 Conor Joyce,
8 Rory Pitman (Max Argyle 48). .
15, Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Pete Laverick, 12 Nicolas De Battista (c),
11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Alex Day; 1 Marlen Walker (Christian Judge 63), 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 3 Jack Andrew (Billy Keast 28-38, 52), 4 Josh Caulfield,
5 Toby Freeman, 6 Rupert Cooper (Dan Lee 63), 7 Matt Bolwell,
8 Tom Lawday (Tom Duncan 52).
Replacements (not used): Mike Pope, Will Cargill, Dan Koster.
Yellow card: Andrew.
Jersey Reds – tries: Pincus (2), Godfrey; cons: Cope (2).
Cornish Pirates – try: Laverick; con: L. May; pens: L. May (2).
Christophe Ridley (RFU)