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Cornish Pirates crush Titans
CORNISH PIRATES 53
ROTHERHAM TITANS 21
Having only scored 13 tries in their previous Championship games of the season, in Round 9 the Pirates suddenly turned on the style to score eight, including an impressive hat-trick for flanker Phil Burgess.
This was a win where, in sunny conditions at the Mennaye Field, the forwards set the platform for victory, after everyone present had stood pre-match for minute's silence on what was Remembrance Sunday.
Also, mentioning 'Remembrance', it was recalled that this was the first time in over 12 months that the Pirates had passed the 50 points mark in the Championship - Leeds Carnegie having been thrashed 52-10 in September, 2011.
Rotherham Titans arrived at the Mennaye Field placed fifth in the league table, whilst the Pirates were seventh, and it was the Yorkshire visitors, without a head coach following the recent resignation of Andre Bester, who took an early lead when their skipper Garry Law slotted a neatly executed drop goal.
The Pirates were quick to level matters after Burgess had run potently into the Titans '22', as from the pressure created fly-half Aaron Penberthy landed a penalty on offer.
With their line-out quick to function the Pirates soon returned deep into Rotherham's half, and this time scored the game's opening try through their inspirational No. 8, Laurie McGlone. Penberthy also added the conversion.
The gifted Law pulled three points back with a well-struck penalty, but after the Titans were reduced to 14 men following the sin-binning of lock Toby Freeman, the Pirates extended their lead with an unconverted try scored by hooker Rob Elloway.
The Pirates were very much in control, despite Penberthy being luckless with a number of kicks, and they were then given another brief warning when Law slotted his second drop goal in the match.
Approaching half-time an error made by Rotherham enabled the Pirates to create a likely telling score in the context of the match, when from possession gifted them Burgess would stretch to dot the ball down for a try to which Penberthy now added the extras.
A 22-9 lead was a healthy one, and that's how it remained at the whistle, after Law failed in the very last seconds with a long-range penalty attempt.
The Pirates were keen to press on when play resumed, and six minutes into the second period made it 29-9 after a second try for Burgess, and the fourth for the Pirates, secured the bonus point.
To their credit the Bester-less Titans battled away and had their efforts rewarded when replacement hooker Ted Stagg burrowed over the line for a converted try at the clubhouse corner.
Man-of-the-match lock, Gary Johnson, who had ruled the line-out all afternoon, would score the next Pirates try, converted by Penberthy, and then Stagg was at it once more as he forced his way over again for his, and Rotherham's, second.
Further good work from Burgess set centre Junior Fatialofa on his way to score his first try of the season, and continuing the 'first' theme there was then one for wing Ben Mercer who was making his first Championship appearance for the Pirates.
Questions were now being asked, could the Pirates make the 50-points mark? Well, the answer was 'yes', as Burgess snaffled possession and sprinted over for his hat-trick score, converted by replacement Kieran Hallett, which brought proceedings to an end.
In the fading early winter light, of what had been a fine afternoon, the Pirates and their supporters were in buoyant mood. And deservedly so!
Cornish Pirates: W. Davies (T. Kessell 71), G. Pointer, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa (A. Cheesman 68), B. Mercer, A. Penberthy (K. Hallett 71), G. Cattle (capt), L. McGlone, P. Burgess, B. Maidment, G. Johnson, D. Lyons (D.Barry 52), B. Prescott (P. Joyce 52), R. Elloway (D. Semmens 68), R. Storer (A. Paver 63).
Rotherham Titans: F. Mulchrone, P. Homan, L. Blackett, J. Gill, M. Doneghan, G. Law (capt.), C. Mulchrone (J. Williams 52), C. Kirwan (N. Dacres 63), J. Ellyatt (E. Taylor 60), A. Rieder, D. Sanderson, T. Freeman, R. Davies (G. Denman 46), D. Baines (T. Stagg 29), S. Cahill (M. Gadd 46).
Replacement (not used): E. Styles.
Yellow card: Freeman
Cornish Pirates - tries: Burgess (3), McGlone, Elloway, Johnson, Fatialofa, Mercer; cons: Penberthy (4), Hallett; pen: Penberthy.
Rotherham Titans - tries: Stagg (2); con: Law; pen: Law; drop goals: Law (2).
Referee: John Meredith (RFU)