25 November, 2017
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League / Cup
The Cornish Pirates’ ‘RAG Week’ concluded satisfactorily as the Cornishmen righted not only the wrongs against the Exiles eight days earlier – but the frustrations of over six years of woe at this famous old rugby ground.
That they did it against an in form Richmond – who humbled them twice last season – and were looking to capitalise further their top half of the table position; made this fourth victory of the season that bit sweeter.
A bitterly fought encounter – on a bitter afternoon in West London – was in the balance until the final quarter, when the Pirates finally managed to wrassle full control from the hosts.
In fairness, they’d managed to edge proceedings from the beginning – when a positive opening yielded the first of Cargill’s two penalties as early as the 7th minute.
The lead was only a brief one however – ten clicks later and the home side were finally granted their first real opportunity. Woodward duly obliged in the left hand corner from Simpson-Hefft’s subtle offload – a manoeuvre that sadly came at a cost to Pirates full back Toby May. His collision with the flying winger forced his early withdrawal. Namesake Laurence manfully filled the void.
Being behind – for the one and only period in the match – didn’t seem to perturb the visitors unduly and their response proved effective. Immediate pressure told. Richmond centre, Mitchell, blinked – leaving the man in the middle, Dean Richards, with little alternative but to bin the centre for ten for his wayward handwork.
Both sides however – came into this game with the Championship’s worst disciplinary records.
The gloss of Tom Duncan’s try in the aftermath of Richmond’s drop in personnel numbers was soon dimmed somewhat, with compadre Will Cargill leaving the field in unison with the home side’s skipper, Will Warden. Not exactly hand in hand you understand – after it all went hellup when Alex Day found himself being thrust up into the Heathrow flightpath – feet first.
Still a man up regardless – the Pirates successfully managed to negotiate the remainder of the half. More so in fact, as they engineered a further three points – the zingy right boot of May doing the do. Half time and 13-7 to the good would suffice.
It needed too. Richmond emerged for the second half resplendent in white – their gold hoops losing the battle of the gold tops with the Cornish away strip. No doubt teasy from this change of attire – they quickly closed the gap back to three – Chisholm’s penalty from just inside the Pirates’ ’10’ flying through the uprights.
The Pirates – needing to snuff out any talk of prolonging their hoodoo – began to ramp matters up. Reinforcements were deployed and one of them – Walker – emerged from the bottom of a maul after the hour claiming the spoils. Others, including Duncan, Cowan-Dickie & Cooper, all being mentioned in despatches in the immediate aftermath. Cheeseman’s changing room intervention – rather like his effectiveness around the breakdown all afternoon – resolving the mystery post match!
Concentration was still required though – particularly when Woodward went over the whitewash again – as the Pirates were caught napping in their warm glow.
It mattered not. Overdrive was engaged in those final ten minutes, when the result was left in no doubt. Cargill’s penalty five minutes from time may have sealed things – but there was still time for a final flourish.
Cargill’s break may have ended just short of the line – O’Meara’s presence merely finished off this decisive move.
Praise too for the Pirates opting to tap and go and sniff out a potential 11th bonus point instead of hoofing the pill in the direction of HQ.
Pity this final play fell just short of it’s intended outcome. Bare bones squad wise or no – the Pirates are heading predominantly forwards these days.
Will Warden (c)
Nicolas De Battista (c)