CORNISH PIRATES 36 LOUGHBOROUGH STUDENTS 7
12:26pm Monday 13th August 2012 in Sport
This game, as expected, proved its worth as a pre-season opener, with both sides deriving benefit as they started preparation for their respective campaigns.
Promoted at the end of last season as champions of National 2 North, the strong Loughborough Students side arrived at the Mennaye Field clearly fully focused to give a good account of themselves, and they did, before the superior strength of the Pirates ultimately dictated the the outcome.
It was first time visit for the Students and they started in impressive style, with No. 8 Joe Burton quickly catching the eye as a potent ball carrier. Indeed, the Pirates hardly had a sniff of the ball in the opening period and they were a little fortunate that the Loughborough side perhaps squandered two scoring chances.
The Pirates, who started with six fresh faces in their line-up, at last eased the pressure when one of the new boys, lock Gary Johnson, rose high to secure good line-out ball, thus enabling the Pirates to drive clear from the Newlyn line.
Maintaining upfield progress, it was a former Loughborough Students captain, Phil Burgess, who inflicted damage on his former team, when with accustomed athleticism he set up a try scored by wing Matt Evans at the scoreboard corner. Fly-half Aaron Penberthy missed with his conversion attempt.
As the Pirates showed further signs of getting in the groove, it was likely only a matter of time before they would take general control, despite the continuing efforts of Burton and his skipper, centre Chris Kinloch.
The Cornish side lost the services of wing Sean Morris, an Oxford 'Blue' who has been training with the squad, but on the half-hour mark they happily extended their lead with another unconverted try, this time scored by Burgess, which proved to be the last points acquired before the break
Both sides introduced replacements at the start of the second period, and it was not long before the Pirates added to their tally. Lively scrum-half Tom Kessell linked with Tom Bedford on the right, and after the ball was moved back across the line replacement centre Alex Cheesman was quickly in the action to score on his debut. Another new boy, but a familiar face in former Plymouth Albion captain Kieran Hallett, added the extras.
The Pirates were now very much in charge, with their scrum dominant and the defence up to par when called upon, and to underline their overall authority Kessell then set up a second try for Evans who soon notched up his hat-trick in what was an impressive performance.
There was due credit to the Students when pressure built on the right that was rewarded with a try scored by replacement hooker Tom Hobbs, who burrowed over at the scoreboard corner. Full-back Chris Surmame slotted the conversion.
The Pirates final try of the afternoon was awarded only after referee Tim Foley consulted with one of his assistants, Nick Williams. Another unfamiliar figure who has been training with Cornish Pirates squad, replacement forward Charlie Davey, was declared the scorer, and Hallett duly added the conversion.
Commenting with reference to Saturday's pre-season opener, Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies said:
"We got a great deal out of the game and it was a good contest against a talented Loughborough team. They'll go well in National 1 this year when they have their full team out.
"From a Pirates perspective we looked to take a couple of our training focuses into the game which by and large we were pleased with. The new 'calls' at the scrum will takes teams and officials time to get used to and as we had decided to take scrums instead of penalties and free-kicks I could understand a little of the supporters frustrations".
"Next weekend at Sandy Park will be a hell of a lot tougher but that's why we are going there - you only can improve by testing yourself".
Cornish Pirates: G. Pointer, S. Morris, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa, M. Evans, A. Penberthy, T. Kessell, B. Maidment, P. Burgess, K. Marriott (capt), G. Johnson, D. Barry, B. Prescott, R. Elloway, R. Storer.
Replacements (all used): P. Andrew, D. Semmens, A. Paver, D. Lyons, C. Davey, O. Farley, K. Hallett, A. Cheesman, T. Bedford, C. Ashwin.
Loughborough Students : C. Surmame, T. Hughes, C. Kinloch (capt), C. Morrison, C. Dowsett, E. Markham, J. Brookes, J. Burton, P. Whitfield, J. Parker, L. Griffiths, J. Collister, H. Williams, T. Crozier, L. Padian.
Replacements (all used): G. Richardson, J. Rudland-Thomas, T. Hobbs, J. Altham, M. Rogerson, A. Bone, S. Heygate, M. Dartora, J. Ingle, G. Davies, J. McManus, J. Booth, R. Owen, S. Grabham, B. Robinson
Scorers - Cornish Pirates: tries: Evans (3), Burgess, Cheesman, Davey; cons: Hallett (3)
Loughborough Students: try: Hobbs; con: Surmame.
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates play Exeter Chiefs away on this coming Saturday (ko 3pm) but are home again on Saturday 25th August (ko 5pm) when they'll host the 'Black & Ambers' of Newport RFC in their final pre-season friendly.
Ticket for the Newport match will be just £10 for adults, whilst children under 16 will be admitted free - also includes stand seating, covered or otherwise, on a first come first served basis.
Season ticket holders should note that their season ticket covers their entry to the match but for these games their ticket, as intimated above, does not guarantee them their chosen seat. The advice is to arrive early - note the gates and beer tent will be open two hours before kick-off.
Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.cornish-pirates.com, and from the club's ticket office, telephone 01736-331961, open Monday to Friday from 9am to 12 noon.