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Victory at Vallis Way for Cornish Pirates
EALING TRAILFINDERS 17
CORNISH PIRATES 31
Venturing to Vallis Way, Ealing, on Saturday, for what was also a first ever meeting between the two competing teams, the Cornish Pirates will have been pleased to have registered this bonus point victory.
The opposition Trailfinders, having lost their opening two games in the Greene King IPA Championship, were always likely to pose a threat on the occasion of their first home game in the competition, and at the very start it was the new boys who quickly threatened with an attack down the right.
Thankfully clearing the danger through a kick out of hand by fly-half Kieran Hallett, the Pirates held acquired territorial advantage inside Ealing's half and in the ninth minute they opened the scoring when wing Kieran Goss crossed wide out left for an unconverted try.
The hosts looked to make an immediate response and after wing Andrew Henderson made inroads down the right it wasn't long before a penalty chance was created. Centre Tom Wheatcroft was handed the chance to kick Ealing's first points of the afternoon but his effort went to the right of the posts.
The condition of the surface at Vallis Way invited flowing rugby to be played, but in turn there was a cool autumnal breeze for the kickers to contend with, and when Hallett also had a chance to put the Pirates further ahead his first penalty attempt, albeit from some 40 plus metres out, his effort also missed.
Ealing were keen to bring their prolific try-scoring wing Phil Chesters into play, and, with a couple of well-judged cross-field kicks, he was. Their line-out was also functioning well, whilst in their pack No. 8 Tom Anderson, a son of former Ireland international Willie, and flanker Ed Siggery battled hard.
Just past the half-hour mark the Londoners made a strong push for the line after the Cornish Pirates had been reduced to 14 men. Lock Darren Barry, who had been promoted off the bench and into the starting XV after Gary Johnson was injured during the warm up, was sent to the sin bin by referee Mr. Carley, and Ealing took immediate advantage when Siggery drove over for a try. Wheatcroft added the conversion to make it 7-5.
The home support had been given a boost, but any sense of elation was soon all but immediately quelled. Fly-half Ben Ward looked to have repelled the Pirates when his kick up field was chased by a couple of colleagues, who enveloped the catcher, but in a cruel split second the ball suddenly appeared in Pirate hands, and swiftly reaching Goss another impressive turn of speed saw him run 25 metres for a try. Hallett kicked a fine conversion and the Pirates led 12-7 at half-time.
Looking at the scoreline it would have appeared that this game was still in the balance, and it was, but there was also every prospect that the Pirates would learn more than just a little from the first forty. They would surely look to cut their error count, continue dominance at scrum time and at the breakdown, and also apply their driving maul to good effect. We would see.
Ealing would start the second period in positive fashion, and after lock Gavin Curry had made the hard yards a penalty chance created was fired successfully through the posts by Wheatcroft.
A lead narrowed to 12-10 might have worried some, but the Pirates knew what they had to do. Their driving maul had been an obvious weapon and they right away constructed a potent, moving ball of bodies. Making mighty yardage on a forward advance they then crabbed to the left, and when choosing their moment to finally straighten once more, this time just a short distance to the line, prop Jack Andrew was identified as the try-scorer. Hallett slotted the simple conversion that followed.
Tom Channon was introduced to proceedings in the 47th minute, the former Bristol man making his Championship debut at hooker for the Pirates. Replacing lock James Sandford, this meant a shuffle in the pack whereby Aaron Carpenter transferred from hooker to No. 8, and Laurie McGlone moved from the middle of the back-row to partner Barry at lock.
The Pirates were now a dominant force, and by the hour mark a try scored by Carpenter gave them a comfortable looking 24-10 points lead. The Canada skipper's touchdown also provided a bonus point.
Both sides made the usual expected replacements in the final quarter of the game. Familiar frames in the shape of prop Ryan Storer and back-rower Mat Evans appeared for the home side, whilst the Pirates would give Championship debuts to replacement scrum-half Mike Pope and young flanker Matt Bolwell. Pope took over from Tom Kessell, but only after 'Kess' has scored the team's fifth try, which was converted by Hallett.
Play truly opened up in the final few minutes and the entertaining display given by the home side certainly provided more than a little cheer for the home support. Replacement scrum-half Tom Parker took his chance to score a converted try, and Ealing might well have scored again as centre Chris Kinloch and Chesters both went close.
For the Pirates it wasn't a 5-star performance but the secured five league points will do nicely. Pre-match they planned to seek the same, and they had delivered, with attention now turning to this Friday's home game at the Mennaye Field against Moseley (ko 7.45pm).
Ealing Trailfinders: W. Robinson, A. Henderson, C. Kinloch, T. Wheatcroft, P. Chesters, B. Ward, S. Cummins (T. Parker 68), T. Anderson (A, Bradley 68), A. Nillson, E. Siggery (M. Evans 67), G. Curry, A. Preocanin (capt), T. Brockett (R. Storer 63), R. Townsend (S. Wilkes 63), D. Marfo (C. Carey 63).
Replacement (not used): S. Hall.
Cornish Pirates: C. Holland, J. Tincknell, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa (R. James 67), K. Goss, K. Hallett (A. Sinclair 76), T. Kessell (M. Pope 76), L. McGlone (M. Bolwell 79), C. Morgan (capt), J. Parker, D. Barry, J. Sandford (T. Channon 48), A. Paver (J. Andrew 67), A. Carpenter, J. Andrew (B. Prescott 58).
Replacement (not used): R. Elloway.
Yellow card: Barry.
Ealing Trailfinders: Siggery, Parker; cons: Whestcroft (2); pen: Wheatcroft.
Cornish Pirates – tries: Goss (2), Andrew, Carpenter, Kessell; cons: Hallett (3).
Referee: Matt Carley (RFU).