22 October, 2021
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League / Cup
After a near three-week break, ahead of this game the Cornish Pirates understandably looked forward to action following their journey to play the ‘Green & Whites’ of Nottingham. Then, to secure a bonus point win, it was a fully just reward for their efforts both in preparation and on the day.
Changes for the Cornish Pirates from the side that won so well at home against Ealing Trailfinders last time out were minimal. In the starting XV, Jack Andrew slotted in at loose-head prop in place of the unavailable James Kenny, whilst Hayden King filled Andrew’s seat on the bench.
After Cornish Pirates’ fly-half Arwel Robson kicked the game off in perfect Friday night conditions at Nottingham’s Lady Bay ground, the visitors were also quick to make it a perfect start. Gaining territory from one penalty award, following a line-out scrum-half Tom Kessell quick tapped from another which led to an opening score in just the second minute. Prop Patrick Schickerling appeared to first go close to making it over the line, before energetic hooker Tom Channon was then identified as a try-scorer. Robson added the extra two points.
Applying immediate pressure on their opponents from the restart, through a potent driving maul the Pirates soon added a second converted try to their tally, skipper John Stevens applying required pressure when crossing the whitewash.
The Green & Whites could have been forgiven for feeling a little shellshocked, however they began to settle in the match and in the fourteenth minute hit back with a try scored by hooker Jake Farnworth.
Fly-half Sam Hollingsworth missed his conversion attempt but from the right of the posts was shortly after successful with a well struck penalty
After play was evenly balanced for a period, a Robson penalty extended the Pirates lead for them to ultimately hold a 17-8 points advantage come the break.
Cornish Pirates’ supporters must have been quietly confident from what they had seen thus far, including among them familiar faces in former players Harry Davey, Maliq Holden, and Dan Frost. Thoughts of ‘Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate!’ came to mind.
Emerging from the tunnel for the second period, the Pirates started the half as they did the first, with another seven points quickly registered. Centre Rory Parata first charged down a kick, and as the Pirates proceed to retrieve possession Schickerling scored the team’s third converted try of the evening.
The Pirates added further three points thanks to a penalty slot by Robson, although after losing the services of injured centre Charlie Thacker, Nottingham responded to hold possession for a good period. The men in Green & White also threatened at times, with their wingman David Williams going close. They certainly had their chances, only to be guilty on occasions of making mistakes close to the line.
To their credit the Pirates held defensively strong and keeping their focus managed to near the end secure a bonus point providing fourth try from an attacking line-out. Replacement hooker James Benjamin’s throw found the hands of flanker Matt Bolwell, and after backs added weight to a maul, the drive to the line ended with Benjamin the scorer of an unconverted try.
Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said:
“Any win in the Championship away from home is a bit of a task and in what was at times a patchy game we commendably stuck at it.
“It was said pre-match that this would be a bit of a crossroads for us if we are to compete going forward, so displaying good energy and keeping focused to ultimately secure five points was very pleasing.
“We prepared well for this game with the hard work rewarded when from a maul we secured the bonus point try at the end. Assistant coach Louie Tonkin’s integration has helped, and I am delighted for the boys.”
John Stevens (C)