Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting PKNEWS to 80360
Pirates clip Raven's wings under the floodlights
Cornish Pirates 34 Ulster Ravens 17
On an evening when their successful and inspirational skipper, Gavin Cattle, made his 200th appearance for the club, the Cornish Pirates duly delivered the victory sought, in what was this season's British & Irish Cup opener.
The Ulstermen, who were making a welcome first time visit, went five points down on eight minutes after No. 8 Aaron Carpenter surged down the right for him to open the scoring for the Pirates. He powered over for a try at the clubhouse corner but fly-half Angus Sinclair's conversion attempt fell just short.
The Ravens looked to make an immediate response and twice went close. Centre Ricky Andrew put a foot in touch before crossing on the left and wing Chris Cochrane was soon after denied his chance because of a forward pass.
On a dry, cold and breezy evening the visitors were showing the threat expected, but when it came to opening their account it wasn't try-scoring but two penalties kicked by fly-half James McKinney that delivered points to make it 5-6
This was a closely fought contest, and one where the Pirates would at first regain their lead with a penalty slotted by Sinclair and then extend it thanks to a try scored by Mike Pope, the wing man taking the ball on the right and pinning back his ears to run a straight line to the corner.
It appeared as if the Pirates could take a 13-6 points lead into half-time, but, as if to remind everyone that they were still very much in this contest, the Ravens then manufactured a super try, scored by wing Peter Nelson at the old Western National corner, but made thanks to McKinney's pin-point lengthy pass.
With the score reading 13-11, it seemed certain that an enthralling second half lay in wait. We would see.
A McKinney penalty on 48 minutes put Ulster one point ahead, which concentrated the Pirates to up the tempo in an effort to regain the initiative. It worked.
Maintaining their purpose, when the ball was worked right it reached the hands of winger Kieran Goss, who breezed in for a try at the Newlyn gate corner. Sinclair's conversion narrowly missed but the Pirates were 18-14 up.
On about the hour mark Ulster's flanker Michael McComish was sent to the sin bin, Sinclair kicked a penalty to open up a seven points gap, and shortly after McKinney and Sinclair added a further three points each from the tee.
The outcome of this contest was still in the balance, but as the Pirates applied pressure through their forwards on the left there was surely a chance to create what could be a telling score.
They went close, however possession was then lost with the ball reaching Nelson who appeared to have space to run in from a distance. Could he go clear?
It looked 'on', but it would be 'no', as his opposite number, Matt Evans, retrieved the ball in what was the defining moment of the game. Taking advantage to burst into space, his try at the Newlyn posts, converted by Sinclair, made it 31-17, with Hallett afterwards landing a penalty to record at the end a convincing 34-17 points victory.
This result, from a hugely entertaining game, provided considerable satisfaction not just for Gavin but also to coaching staff and supporters alike. Young man-of-the-match prop Kieran Davies had impressed 'up front', lock Will Graulich will have enjoyed his Cup match 'start', and coming off the bench fit again prop Shane Cahill and flanker Joe Atkinson were delighted to make their first appearances for the Pirates on the Mennaye Field.
It's early days, and difficult challenges lie ahead, but the Pirates are looking in fine fettle.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kieran Goss, 14 Mike Pope (Craig Holland h/t), 13 Junior Fatialofa (Kieran Hallett 74), 12 Rheon James, 11 Matt Evans, 10 Angus Sinclair, 9 Gavin Cattle (capt), 1 Kieran Davies (Shane Cahill 63), 2 Tom Channon, 3 Ben Prescott (Peter Joyce 73), 4 Will Graulich, 5 Darren Barry (Alex Cheesman 45), 6 Chris Morgan (Joe Atkinson 77), 7 Joel Conlon (Jake Parker 57), 8 Aaron Carpenter.