Cornish Pirates 19 Jersey 15
Welcoming Jersey RFC to the Mennaye Field on Sunday for what was actually the fourth meeting between the two sides this season, the Cornish Pirates deservedly recorded a win from a match played in difficult conditions.
The victory, their first Championship win since beating Plymouth Albion on Boxing Day, made up for the 27-25 league loss suffered at Rue des Landes last November, whilst it was also remembered that in December's back-to-back games against Jersey in the Cup the Pirates had won 31-20 at home and 24-0 away.
Heavy pre-match rain guaranteed a mudfest, but the teams admirably set about their business with the visitors getting off to a fine start when fly-half Aaron Penberthy, who was one five former Pirates in the Jersey squad, struck a long range penalty kick clean through the Penzance posts. It was a score that also lit up the face of recently departed Cornish Pirates Assistant Coach, Harvey Biljon, who was making his first return to the 'Mennaye' in his new role as Head Coach of the islanders.
Penberthy had the chance to add an extra three points to Jersey's tally on 10 minutes, but his attempt went narrowly wide.
This match quickly proved to be as competitive as had been expected, with Junior Fatialofa for the Pirates relishing involvement in the tackle area. No. 8 Laurie McGlone also enjoyed carrying from the back of a dominant scrum.
Both sides quickly resembled mud monsters, but in the build to half-time it was the Pirates who looked in the ascendancy, which was soon confirmed with two tries scored before the break. The first saw the Pirates take the lead when Fatialofa was driven over at the Newlyn gate corner, with Hallett adding the conversion, and following good play from scrum-half Tom Kessell the ball was then released to wing Kyle Moyle who crossed wide out on the left. Hallett was this time luckless with his conversion attempt, but to arrive 12-3 up at the break was quite acceptable in a contest enjoyed those in the crowd who, despite the elements, turned out on the day to loyally support their side.
During the break a guest of the Pirates for the weekend, RFU Chairman Bill Beaumont, made the 50/50 Draw, and in interview with PA announcer Phil Westren he spoke of his career and of hopes for England's important game against Wales next weekend. All Pirates will also hope that Jack Nowell, who was another guest watching the Pirates with his family, will again be selected for his country.
The Pirates had ended the first half well, and they continued in such vein at the start of the second period when young man-of-the-match full-back Max Bodilly, who was making his Championship debut, took space on offer to run in a try at the clubhouse corner. Hallett's conversion made it 19-3.
It was naturally time to now seek a bonus-point-providing fourth score, and a run from wing Kieran Goss raised hopes, but for the home side there would no more points.
The Pirates still controlled the scrummage but Jersey mauled well and they deserved rewards that came their way. Skipper Alex Rae was driven over the line for their first try on the right, which was unconverted, but after the Pirates lost prop Shane Cahill to the sin bin the visitors applied the pressure for a penalty try to be awarded, this time converted by replacement Niall O'Connor.
A losing bonus point at the end provided satisfaction for Jersey, as did the fully deserved and welcome win for the Pirates.
Speaking after the game the Director of Rugby at the Cornish Pirates, Ian Davies, said:
“In what we said was always going to be a roller-coaster season the players rolled up their sleeves and got the victory they deserved.
“I thought we played really, really well and Max scored a great try on his Championship debut.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Max Bodilly, 14 Kieran Goss, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Junior Fatialofa (Tom Hendrickson 68), 11 Kyle Moyle (Craig Holland h/t), 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Tom Kessell; 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 3 Ben Prescott (Jack Andrew 68), 4 Will Carrick Smith, 5 Darren Barry (Neale Patrick 30), 6 Chris Morgan (capt), 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Laurie McGlone.
Replacements (not used): Tom Channon, Kieran Davies, Joe Atkinson.
Yellow card: Cahill.
Jersey: 15 Jack Burroughs , 14 Grant Pointer, 13 Drew Locke (David Bishop 59), 12 Mark McCrea, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Aaron Penberthy (Niall O'Connor), 9 Jimmy Williams (Nicky Griffiths 46); 1 Sam Lockwood (Sean McCarthy 43), 2 Elvis Taione (David Felton 68), 3 Nick Selway (Jon Brennan h/t), 4 Nick Campbell (Dave Markham 56), 5 James Voss, 6 Alex Rae (capt), 7 Joe Buckle, 8 Latu Makaafi.
Scorers: Cornish Pirates tries: Fatialofa, Moyle, Bodilly; cons: Hallett (2).
Jersey tries: Rae, penalty try: con: O'Connor; pen: Penberthy.
Referee: Greg Macdonald (RFU)