Act of Godman gives London Scottish victory against the Cornish Pirates
A penalty goal kicked by former Scotland fly-half Phil Godman sneaked victory for London Scottish in the very last minute of this game.
This was a match played in warm autumn sunshine at the Athletic Ground, Richmond, with the skies above blue and there the sight and sound also of jet planes providing a continuous stream as they lined up to land at Heathrow Airport.
The home side, who lost flanker Chevvy Pennycook to the sin bin in just the second minute, had acquired the services of giant London Welsh winger Joe Ajuwa for this match, and they looked clearly keen to get him quickly involved in the action. However, after the ball was spilled the visiting Pirates showed the exiles side how to handle the oval pill and following a display of fluid passing No.8 Ben Maidment was on hand to score a try, converted by fly-half Kieran Hallett, which put the Pirates 7-nil up with there six minutes on the clock.
Play from both sides was open, with former ‘Pirate’ Richard Bolt directing matters from scrum-half for Scottish, and full-back Jack Nowell, who is dual-registered with Exeter Chiefs, showing enterprise on his Championship debut for the Pirates. Also, to provide due relief, when called upon the young Cornishman then made a try-saving tackle on opposition wingman Miles Mantella.
A display of purpose and strength, particularly from Pennycook and Ajuwa, forced the Pirates back. Prop Colin Quigley was unlucky not to dot the ball down, but London Scottish needn’t have worried as from a scrum near the posts it was worked to Pennycook who did well to stretch and score. Full-back James Love converted to bring the scores level at 7-all.
Hallett was off target with a penalty attempt as the Pirates responded to boss matters, and after keeping up the pressure referee Mr. Campbell suddenly strode to the posts to award them a penalty try, and one duly converted by Hallett.
Love kicked a well struck penalty to pull back three points back for the home side, but on the stroke of halftime the Pirates would extend their lead in impressive style. With clean possession the backs created a finely crafted score, with Nowell the finisher and Hallett adding the extras to make it 10-21 at the break.
Thoughts during the interval were ‘so far, so good’, and with travelling supporters having enthusiastically chanted ‘Pirates, Pirates’ as the team returned to the changing rooms, there was clearly every hope that they would go on and win this game.
At the start of the second half No. 8 Mark Bright, the former Redruth talisman and present skipper of London Scottish, looked to lead the way back for his team, with there good back up from former ‘Pirate’ and replacement Simon Whatling, who was another player loaned to Scottish by London Welsh.
The Pirates were unsuccessful in attempting to deliver points from a catch and drive, but although thwarted by the opposition another penalty award resulted in Hallett taking the kick at goal option to make it 10-24.
London Scottish heads might have dropped at this point, but when man of the match Pennycook galloped over for a try, converted by Godman, spirits were lifted for their team and supporters.
A thumper of a tackle by centre Junior Fatialofa on his opposite number Dave McCall temporarily halted Scottish ambition, and their handling error count was also high, but they equally deserved enormous credit for keeping the Pirates at bay from two catch and drives.
The Cornish side was naturally keen to score a bonus point providing fourth try and take five points from a game that they were going to win – weren't they? Well, as it worked out the answer would be ‘no’.
A try from Bright in the eightieth minute gave the exiles hope of a draw, but with Love replaced at half-time it left Godman with a less than easy chance at goal. He missed.
Now into injury time it looked as if the Pirates would likely have to settle simply to hold out for victory. Simply? With the tension that had built about it would be anything but that, and after Pirates’ replacement prop Paul Andrew was yellow-carded it was left to Godman to settle the result.
In silence, with seemingly even the flight path of jets above temporarily put on hold, the diminutive kicker held his nerve to record an unlikely victory.
The Pirates just minutes earlier had hopes of acquiring five league points, but when the final whistle then sounded they had to settle just for one.
Cornish Pirates: J. Nowell, T. Bedford, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa, W. Davies, K. Hallett, T. Kessell, B. Maidment, P. Burgess (capt), C. Morgan, G. Johnson, D. Lyons (D. Barry 64), A. Paver (B. Prescott70), J. Yeandle (R. Elloway 64), R. Storer (P. Andrew 72). Replacements (not used): J. Buckle, A. Cheesman, A. Penberthy.