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20 August, 2022
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League / Cup
By Phil Westren
After the rigours of training during this especially hot summer, match action commenced for the Cornish Pirates with this pre-season opener away to National League One side Taunton Titans.
The Pirates emerged comfortable 64-14 winners on their last visit to Taunton in August 2015, and despitehaving the upper hand in this latest similar ‘friendly’, things did not go all their own way.
For supporters travelling to the fixture at the Somerset team’s Veritas Park ground, this contest provided an ideal early opportunity to cast an eye over new squad members.
In total, 13 new confirmed faces were named to make their debuts for the Cornish Pirates, namely hookers Will Crane and Max Norey, props Harvey Beaton and Matt Johnson, locks James Fender, Will Britton and Josh Williams, backrowers Alex Everett, Seb Nagle-Taylor, Olly White and Jarrard Hayler, centre Garyn Smith, and wing Will Trewin. One further player, wing Tom Briggs, who is associated with the Royal Navy and has been training with thesquad, was also selected.
Forwards Max Norey and Matt Johnson mentionedare two of seven players dual registered with Exeter Chiefs. The balance five, namely Lewis Pearson, Arthur Relton, Cory Teague, Rusiate Tuima and Tommy Wyatt, were not available for this encounter, as was the case with a couple of other Cornish Pirates squad members.
The Cornish Pirates certainly impressed at the start of the game, with skipper Will Crane celebrating his debut with three early tries, one of which was converted by fly-half Arwel Robson.
Wings Callum Sirker and debutant Will Trewin were looking sharp in the ideal conditions, and after a fine break from Robson it was flanker Will Gibson who was next to score. Robson also added the extras, but was luckless when attempting to land a conversion from out wide following a try scored by Sirker that made it 0-29 at the break.
Into the second half, among numerous changes of personnel it was scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson whowent close to keeping the scoreboard ticking, however that would be put on hold for a lengthyspell. The Pirates lost second half captain John Stevens to the sin bin, and Taunton would proceed to open their account with a try scored by scrum half Jay Toogood, which was converted by his halfback partner Jordan Gott.
The Pirates did manage to find their scoring touch once more come the last quarter, first through wing Tom Briggs and then from fellow winger Robin Wedlake. Fly-half Harry Bazalgette added the extras to both, with his second conversion a particularly well struck effort.
Nearing the end, a second Pirate, prop Matt Johnson,was yellow carded, and the Titans had the last say thanks to a try scored by Wilf McCarthy, that Gott once again converted.
Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates’ joint headcoach Gavin Cattle said:
“Hosted well by Taunton, this game gave us a real good workout in what was a typically usual pre-season affair.
“We showed up impressively in the first half, whilstafter we had made changes there was credit to theTitans in the second period as they tested us at the breakdown and in the set piece.
“The overall pluses were our general effort, ourintensity, and doing the basics pretty well – especially in the first half.”
“It was good to get going, and at the same timeremember that we’ll be learning about this group for four or five games yet.”
Taunton Titans: 15 Sam Baker, 14 Greg Kitson, 13 Joe Blackburn, 12 Freddie Fraser, 11 Frankie Dart, 10 Jordan Gott, 9 Jay Toogood; 1 Will Vaughan, 2 Alex Spurdle, 3 Isaac Dalton, 4 Brett Harvey, 5 Sam Knott, 6 Charlie Walker Blair, 7 Charlie Wright, 8 Sam Prior.
Replacements: Connor Baker, Chris Francis, 18 Andy England, Wayne Sprangle, Connor Banks, Will Kennagh, Wilf McCarthy.
Cornish Pirates – First half – Team 1 : 15 Carwyn Penny, 14 Will Trewin, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Joe Elderkin, 11 Callum Sirker, 10 Arwel Robson, Alex Schwarz; 1 Marlen Walker 2 Will Crane (captain), 3 Hayden King, 4 James Fender, 5 Will Britton, 6 Alex Everett, 7 Will Gibson, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor.
Second half – Team 2: 15 AJ Cant, 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Shae Tucker, 11 Tom Briggs, 10 Harry Bazalgette, 9 Ruaridh Dawson; 1 Olly Adkins/Jack Andrew, 2 Max Norey, 3 Harvey Beaton/Matt Johnson, 4 Josh Williams, 5 James Fender, 6 Olly White, 7 Jarrard Hayler, 8 John Stevens (captain).
Taunton Titans – tries: Toogood, McCarthy; cons: Gott (2).
Cornish Pirates – tries: Crane (3), Gibson, Sirker, Briggs, Wedlake, cons: Robson (2); Bazalgette (2).
Yellow cards: Beaton, Stevens, Johnson.
Referee: Adam Wookey (RFU)
Next up for the Cornish Pirates is one more pre-season game at home to Exeter Chiefs on Friday 2ndSeptember (ko 7.30pm), and then the week after – on Friday 9th September (ko 7.30pm) – it will be an opening Championship league game of the season at home versus Richmond. For further information please visit to the Cornish Pirates website –www.cornish-pirates.com