Cornish Pirates 3pts Newcastle Falcons 25pts
The Cornish Pirates fell to their second defeat in the RFU Championship as Newcastle Falcons ran in three tries at the Mennaye on Sunday.
Presently top of the RFU Championship the league leaders, who finished bottom of the Aviva Premiership last season, won deservedly but were denied a bonus point by a spirited Pirates side.
On a generally wet day, although the worst of the rain held off during the match itself, it begged the question what is it about Dean Richards and Cornwall?
Many, of course, will remember that when he last visited the county when in charge of Harlequins at Kenwyn back in 2006, the weather was less than welcoming then.
The Pirates entered this game clearly fully focused to give a good account of themselves against the high flying Falcons despite missing the services through injury of of Matt Evans, who had scored six tries in the first three games. In a reshuffle from the side that played Bristol, Wes Davies moved from full-back to the wing, Kieran Hallett was selected at full-back, and Aaron Penberthy took the fly-half berth.
In the forwards Chris Morgan replaces the injured Kyle Marriott and Phil Burgess took over the captaincy role. David Lyons partnered Gary Johnson in the second-row, with Darren Barry dropping to the bench, and Ryan Storer and Alan Paver formed the propping pair.
Recent signing Peter Joyce was among the replacements, as was on-loan Redruth winger Lewis Vinnicombe, who played for the Pirates in 2006-07.
Applying early pressure deep inside the Newlyn half of the field, a penalty awarded Newcastle was successfully slotted by full-back Jimmy Gopperth in just the fourth minute.
The Pirates responded with crowd lifting runs from Davies, scrum-half Tom Kessell, and back-rowers Burgess, Morgan and Ben Maidment, and although Hallett was luckless with a difficult penalty attempt into the wind, he would soon level the scores when a second and much easier chance came his way.
The first half was proving a keen old contest, even and hard fought with little to pick between the sides despite Gopperth landing his second penalty of the match to give the visitors back the lead.
It looked likely that the score would stay at 3-6 come the break, but just before half-time the Falcons swooped to register an important score after taking due advantage from a Pirate error.
Taking possession they made a push for the line that resulted in hooker Rob Vickers crashing over with the ball to the left of the Newlyn posts, and Gopperth duly added the extras. A sudden 3-13 scoreline was disappointing, and seemingly didn't reflect the evenness of the first forty, but how would the second period go?
The home side needed an encouraging start on the resumption of play, and there was again no lack of endeavour. Former 'Falcon' Tom Bedford was brought into play off the right wing, but after holding the threat the visitors worked their way back up field.
Keeping possession as they steadily made progress from a series of rucks, their second try of the afternoon would be delivered through bulky open-side flanker Taiasina Ti'ifua. Gopperth's conversion from out wide put the Falcons 20-3 up.
To their credit the Pirates strived hard to create scoring chances but all to no avail. Any prospect of victory had diminished somewhat, but to get within seven points was very much a focus.
As it worked out, however, and on a day when the weather would play a part, 'Deano' knew that a little extra pack power would tell. There had been plaudits for the performance from the Pirates pack, which had been well led by Burgess, but it was Newcastle's bulky eight who would boss matters again at the end and there a final score ultimately created for wing Tom Catterick.
Unable to convert his own try, the 25-3 scoreline in favour of the Northerners was a result that nobody would argue with, but it important to add that the effort from the Pirates also drew just admiration from all about.
Cornish Pirates : K Hallett, T Bedford, T Riley (L Vinnicombe 68), J Fatialofa (A Cheesman 61), W Davies (G Cattle h/t), A Penberthy, T Kessell, B Maidment, P Burgess (capt), C Morgan, G Johnson, D Lyons (D Barry 64), A Paver (P Joyce 64), R Elloway (D Semmens 69), R Storer (P Andrew 54)