Cornish Pirates 5 London Welsh 20
Emerging comfortable 41-6 points victors when the two teams met at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, at the end of October, London Welsh duly completed the double against the Pirates at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.
Playing against a side challenging for promotion, the Pirates aimed to repeat their attacking intent displayed in defeat at Bristol the previous weekend, and to again give supporters a performance to be proud of. On the day, however, in what was a rescheduled contest in the Green King IPA Championship, they fell a little short of the benchmark.
The visitors forced the Pirates to defend right at the start, with their efforts rewarded in the fourth minute with a penalty kicked cleanly through the Penzance posts by scrum-half Alex Davies.
Endeavouring to make an immediate response the Pirates played with good tempo, scrum-half Tom Kessell alert and his half-back partner Kieran Hallett then making a clever break into the Newlyn half of the field. A catch and drive opportunity at the old Western National Corner provided a platform to build for a score, and points would indeed soon materialise, but for London Welsh, who increased their lead when Nick Scott took possession wide out left and ran over half the length of their field for a converted try.
Hallett had a chance to pull three points back with a penalty attempt from over 40 metres out, but his effort narrowly missed, and although the Pirates were solid at the scrum their passing was letting them down.
On the half hour mark London Welsh extended their lead will a really well worked try, built through phases and finished off by flanker Dan Browne. The conversion attempt missed and at 0-15 there would be no further scores before half-time.
Keen to trouble the scoreboard operator early in the second half, there was plenty of penetrative endeavour shown by backs Tom Riley, Max Bodilly and Craig Holland, whilst in the forwards skipper Chris Morgan and man-of-the-match prop Shane Cahill were to the fore.
Hopes raised for the Pirates one moment, would though be dashed once more, as following a break out from defence the 'Dragons' quickly took play to the Newlyn line. A score looked inevitable, and it was one delivered by flanker and skipper Car Kirwan, his team's third try of the afternoon providing their final points of the afternoon.
James Tincknell, who had played on the wing for the Pirates earlier in the season, featured in the centre for the visitors, and another popular former 'Pirate', lock Ian Nimmo, now entered proceedings as a replacement.
There was still over a quarter of the match to be played for the Pirates to avoid being 'nilled', and the running of wing Tom Hendrickson, Kessell and flanker Alex Cheesman heightened spirit levels. Thankfully, with just a few minutes remaining, wing Craig Holland scored his third try in two weeks, thus providing a little brightness to what had in general been a dull afternoon.
Commenting after the game Ian Davies, Director of Rugby at the Cornish Pirates, said:
“Despite the penalty count being in our favour errors, unfortunately, just stopped us getting on the front foot. We were though better in the second half and the scrum also went well.
“Ahead of of our game next weekend at home to Nottingham we will look at what went wrong against the Welsh, get our house in order, and focus suitably to front up on the day.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Max Bodilly, 14 Tom Hendrickson, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Rheon James (Junior Fatialofa 54), 11 Craig Holland, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Tom Kessell (Conner Fullerton 74); 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Rob Elloway (Tom Channon 65), 3 Ben Prescott (Jack Andrew 65), 4 Neale Patrick (Will Graulich 54), 5 Darren Barry (Jake Parker 65), 6 Chris Morgan (capt), 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Aaron Carpenter (Tom Duncan 62).
London Welsh: 15 Alan Awcock, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 James Tincknell, 12 Sonny Parker (Tom May 62), 11 Nick Scott, 10 Toby L'Estrange (Rob Lewis 59), 9 Alex Davies, 1 Alec Hepburn (Nathan Trevett 54), 2 Nathan Vella (Kevin Davies 65), 3 Peter Edwards (James Tideswell 51), 4 Ben West (Ian Nimmo 59), 5 Pete Browne, 6 Daniel Browne, 7 Carl Kirwan (capt, John Quill 65), 8 Ollie Stedman.
Cornish Pirates – try: Holland.
London Welsh – tries: Scott, Daniel Browne, Kirwan; con: Alex Davies; pen: Alex Davies.
Referee: Martin Fox (RFU)