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Nottingham 7

Cornish Pirates 29

3 May, 2024

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Nottingham 7


Cornish Pirates 29

Phil Westren

Forward Dominance Sets Up the Victory

By Phil Westren


Nottingham 7   Cornish Pirates 29


Following a ‘Reserve Weekend’ in the Championship league calendar, the third-placed Cornish Pirates took to the road last Friday evening and recorded this impressive bonus point win against Nottingham.


The Pirates had emerged 41-17 winners against the ‘Archers’ at the Mennaye Field in January. However, at Nottingham’s ‘The Bay’ home, and on a less than welcome damp and windy May evening, a much sterner test was expected.


Changes in the Pirates starting XV from the one that ran out against Cambridge last time out included wing Matt McNab moving into the centre in place of the injured Ioan Evans, and Bruce Houston and Alex Schwarz forming the halfback pairing. For wing Robin Wedlake, who scored two tries as a replacement against Cambridge, this game also proudly marked his 100th appearance for the Pirates. As for the forwards, Will Britton mad a return to partner Steele Barker in the second row, with Hugh Bokenham stepping back to his more familiar role at Number 8.


After Robin Wedlake led the Cornish side out on his milestone occasion, the Pirates looked for a positive start, with their early phase play impressive. Nottingham too looked to threaten, only to see a cross-field kick to wing David Williams go into touch.


A first score in the game came the way of the Pirates after fly-half Bruce Houston fired a penalty kick into the home team’s ‘22’. At the ensuing line-out hooker Harry Hocking’s throw found the hands of lock Steele Barker, and following a drive to the line it was Hocking who not only registered the game’s opening try but also made it a second personal

five-pointer in his three Championship appearances to date. On an evening that was inevitably less than ideal for kickers, whether from ground or hand, Houston was unable to add the extras.


As Nottingham looked to respond, their full-back Ellis Mee proved a dangerous performer, and it was he who initiated events to get Nottingham on the front foot, with support from wing Harry Graham and scrum-half Michael Stronge. The latter was unlucky to knock the ball on before a score from Nottingham soon brought the scores level when a strong advance to the line ended with a try for Archie van der Flier. Recently nominated as one of Nottingham’s players of the season, it was the young prop forward’s first in green and white colours. A successful conversion was then slotted by former England under 18s fly-half Matt Arden, who has also played for Northampton Saints.


As the half developed, one thing would become obvious, as the Pirates had a growing dominance at scrum time, with a series of penalties soon coming their way. Also, from another driving line-out opportunity, in the build to halftime play was taken close to the Nottingham line. Patience with a series of pick and goes was the order of the day, and eventually from another potent driving maul it was scrum-half Alex Schwarz who scored a try to which Houston on this occasion added the conversion.


The ‘Archers’ once again looked to respond in limited time before the break, but without joy, as the Pirates held on to their 12-7 halftime lead after skipper John Stevens hoofed the ball off the park.


When play resumed, despite continuing scrum dominance and bright sparks of play from full-back Kyle Moyle and Schwarz, plus sound kicking out of hand by Houston, the Pirates had to wait until midway through the half before they scored again. Hugh Bokenham had shown good control at the back of the scrum, and it was his backrow colleague Stevens who dotted the ball down for a converted score.


Nottingham strived to get back into the game, as they had all evening, but the Pirates held control and indeed continued to do so after replacements were introduced.


A fourth try for the visitors, a bonus point providing effort, proved an especially impressive one. Replacement scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson broke superbly and, after support was given, it was forward replacement Josh King who crossed the line for his first try in Pirates’ colours. Houston once again added the extra two points.


As for a final score in the match, that came in the form of a penalty kicked by Pirates’ replacement fly-half Tom Pittman.


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


“We are obviously delighted with the win but there was credit also to Nottingham who played their part in the first half. They played from quite deep in their own ‘22’, which we knew they would do, and used cross-field kicks. However, from our perspective we just couldn’t exit effectively in what were difficult conditions.


“It was a tough challenge but eventually our forward dominance took its toll on them. The scrum especially went well, and we were also very sound defensively, the boys admirably putting their bodies on the line even after we had secured our bonus point.”


Nottingham:   15 Ellis Mee 14 David Williams 13 Marcus Ramage (23 Jack Stapley, 64) 12 Dafydd-Rhys Tiueti 11 Harry Graham 10 Matt Arden (22 Jamie Annand, 71) 9 Michael Stronge (21 Will Yarnell, 66); 1 Archie van der Flier (17 Aniseko Sio, 64) 2 Jack Dickinson (16 Harry Clayton, 52) 3 Xavier Valentine (18 Beltus Nonleh, 51) 4 Sebastian Ferreira 5 Jack Shine 6 Sam Green (19 Iosefa Maloney-Fialoa, 50) 7 Nathan Tweedy (captain) 8 James Cherry (20 Jacob Wright, 52).


Cornish Pirates:  15 Kyle Moyle (23 Will Trewin, 71) 14 Robin Wedlake 13 Matt McNab 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Arthur Relton 10 Bruce Houston (22 Tom Pittman, 67) 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 54); 1 Lefty Zigiriadis (17 Jacob Morris, 59) 2 Harry Hocking (16 Marlen Walker, 67) 3 Fin Richardson (18 Jack Andrew, 67) 4 Will Britton (19 Josh King, 40) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett 7 John Stevens (20 Will Gibson, 71) 8 Hugh Bokenham.



Nottingham – tries: Archie van der Flier (23); con: Matt Arden (24)

Cornish Pirates – tries: Harry Hocking (11) Alex Schwarz (36) John Stevens (59) Josh King (66); cons: Bruce Houston (36, 59, 66); pen: Tom Pittman (77).


Referee:   Hamish Grant

Assistants:   Nicola O’Donnell & James Pidding


Attendance:   1150