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Pirates secure quarter final cup spot with comfortable win over Jersey
Jersey 0 Cornish Pirates 24
Welcomed and enjoyed by followers of the Cornish Pirates, this victory was a Christmas present delivered by the players in truly impressive style. Suitably wrapped with a bonus point bow, the ingredients for this seasonal goody was a combination of superb defence and fine finishing.
Also, of prime importance, this win sees the Pirates through to the quarter-finals stage of the British & Irish Cup.
The game was evenly contested early on but remained scoreless during a period when both defences held the upper hand. Approaching the half-hour mark, however, the Cornish side would make the Islanders pay for a kick from hand error, which enabled the Pirates to counter attack with precision.
The ball would find the hands of wing Kyle Moyle who showed his speed to touch down a try for the second week running. He also added the extras.
Jersey's indiscipline had seen them lose prop Nick Selway to the sin bin, and it wasn't too long after his return that they went down to 14 men again following a second yellow carding, this time shown to skipper Alex Rae.
The Pirates were given the chance to take control, and they were in no mood to waste it, and after opting to go for a catch-and-drive from a penalty award prop Jack Andrew scored an unconverted try.
There was still time to make Jersey pay for their indiscretions, and after applying ruthless pressure No. 8 James Phillips took a leaf out of Moyle's book by scoring again against the Islanders, as he had at the Mennaye. Moyle's conversion made it 19-0 to the Pirates at half-time.
The focus for the Pirates as they started the second half was to maintain their composure and stay strong defensively, but to at the same time strive for one more try that would surely deliver them a fourth bonus point win out of four in their pool to date. We would see.
Jersey changed their whole front-row during the interval and quite rightly aimed to get back into the match with hopes of a score early in the second period. The mindset was right and the effort was there, but once again the Pirates would take immediate advantage as soon as Jersey erred.
Having gifted the Pirates back possession, the ball would on this occasion be fed to the grasp of man-of-the-match full-back Kieran Goss, who happily ran from deep, avoided the clutches of a tackler, and then breezed in for a try that would prove to be the last score of the game.
There was actually a half an hour or so to play but it was a job well done by the Cornish side which was on its travels for the last time in 2013. Jersey, who had won 27-25 when the two teams had met at Rue des Landes in the Championship just four weeks earlier, never gave up, but the Pirates had no intention to slacken either and to confirm their dominance in this particular encounter would deny their hosts even a single score.
This was the second of their back to back games against the Islanders in the British & Irish Cup, having emerged 31-20 victors at the Mennaye Field a week earlier.
With it a perfect four bonus points from four under their belts in this season's competition, and despite there still two pool games to play, the Cornish Pirates cannot be leapfrogged at the top of Pool Six, as they are presently 11 pool points ahead of second-placed Ulster Ravens.
A quarter-final spot is guaranteed for the first weekend in April, and they'll be keen now to make sure in their remaining pool games that they ultimately qualify for a home tie. For awareness, there are six pools with four teams in each, and the top side in each pool makes it to the quarter-final stage, plus the two best runners-up.
The teams ranked 1 - 4 then have home advantage. Yes, it's looking good for the only side thus far to achieve maximum points, but the Pirates will take nothing for granted.
Speaking shortly after the final whistle, Cornish Pirates' Head Coach, Ian Davies, said: “This was a fantastic 80 minutes performance, and one where I feel we were we dominant in all areas. If we can win our next home game in the competition against Ayr then a home quarter-final is assured.”
Jersey: 15 Drew Locke (Jack Burroughs 68), 14 Grant Pointer, 13 Mark McCrea, 12 David Bishop, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Joel Dudley (Jimmy Williams 55); 1 Tom Fidler (Sean McCarthy h/t), 2 Dave Felton (Elvis Taione h/t), 3 Nick Selway (David Young h/t), 4 Dave Markham, 5 Alex Rae (capt, Nick Campbell 55), 6 Latu Makaafi (David Young 20-30), 7 Fred Silcock (James Voss 55), 8 Ben Maidment.
Yellow cards: Selway, Rae.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kieran Goss, 14 Mike Pope, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Rheon James (Tom Kessell 77), 11 Kyle Moyle (Angus Sinclair 68), 10 Matt Evans, 9 Gavin Cattle (capt, Alex Dancer 81); 1 Jack Andrew (Kieran Davies 81), 2 Rob Elloway (Tom Channon 51), 3 Ben Prescott (Kieran Davies 13-24), 4 Will Graulich, 5 James Sandford (Darren Barry 39), 6 Chris Morgan, 7 Alex Cheesman (Joe Atkinson 77), 8 James Phillips.
Yellow card: Phillips
Cornish Pirates scorers - Tries: Moyle, Andrew, Phillips, Goss; Cons: Moyle (2)
Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU)
For general information the present pool leaders are Pool 1 – Leinster A (19 points), Pool 2 – Pontypridd (15 points), Pool 3 – Rotherham Titans (13 points), Pool 4 - Plymouth Albion (13 points), Pool 5 Bristol Rugby (18 points), Pool 6 – Cornish Pirates (20 points).
The two remaining pool games for the Cornish Pirates are at home to Ayr on Sunday 12th January (ko 3pm) and away to Ulster Ravens on Friday 17th January (ko 7.30pm).
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