Cornish Pirates 20, Nottingham 29

Looking for a good start to December, in playing the first of three consecutive home games in the Championship Cup the Cornish Pirates sadly lost this Round 4 game,writes Phil Westren.

Earlier in the season the Pirates had emerged comfortable 42-7 winners away to Nottingham in the Cup, so there was inevitable disappointment with this latest result. However, in a sporting context credit was also due the visiting ‘Green & Whites’ for achieving a deserved victory.

Aware, that it is impossible to field more or less the same XV every week, for this Cup encounter the Pirates made changes, tried different combinations and gave players an opportunity to put their hands up for the shirt.

Selected to skipper the side was fly-half Will Cargill, proudly about to make his 100th appearance for the club. On the wing Harry Davey was lined up to play his first competitive match for the team, which is something replacement prop Will Norton looked forward to, whilst named to make their debuts were flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri and second-row forward Cian Romaine.

On a fine early winter’s afternoon, after Will Cargill led the Pirates out it was the visitors who got off to a cracking start when hooker Ben Brownlie powered over at the Penzance posts for a try converted by fly-half Shane O’Leary.

The home side appeared to make light of the setback, their first applied pressure resulting in a penalty opportunity for Cargill to kick the three points on offer, which he did.

Playing with confidence, the Pirates then took the lead in the thirteenth minute. Setting a powerful driving maul, and after 12 of the team had seemingly provided added propulsion, it was hooker Dan Frost who was identified as a try-scorer at the Newlyn gate corner. Cargill added the extras.

Soon after the restart, things would get even better for the home side. Frost showed pace and footwork to get the Pirates on the front foot once more, and when play was taken right it was Davey who chased a kick to the corner to score. Cargill, in fine kicking form, also slotted the conversion.

At this stage it looked as if the Pirates might win this encounter with a bit to spare, however the Green & Whites clearly had other ideas. Indeed, approaching the half an hour mark wing Jack Spittle, who had already looked lively on a couple of occasions, scored a converted try at the clubhouse corner. At 17-14 there was only three points in it, and that is how stayed to half-time.

The Pirates emerged ahead of their opponents for the start of the second half, clearly in a mood to impose themselves. Applied pressure was again rewarded when

Cargill kicked his second penalty, but there was little respite as Nottingham all but immediately hit back with a try scored by centre Harry Strong, who had played for the Pirates during his time at Exeter Chiefs. The conversion for O’Leary to give Nottingham back the lead looked a formality, but it surprisingly missed.

This was a game whereby it was suddenly difficult to predict the winner, so it was perhaps of no surprise that the home crowd was stunned to silence when Nottingham wing David Williams crossed for a converted try at the old Western National corner.

With the score reading 20-26 there was still time for the Pirates to create scoring opportunities, although levels of confidence had somewhat diminished. To hold out for a losing bonus point could have proved important, however they were denied even that when nearing the end of the game O’Leary kicked a penalty to open up a nine points gap.

For the Pirates, with two more pool games remaining, this had been a frustrating day at the office. They ended the match still second in Pool 3 of the competition, ahead of Nottingham on points difference, so to stay in contention they will now be looking for good home wins against Yorkshire Carnegie next Sunday (ko 2.30pm) and versus leaders London Scottish on Saturday week (ko 2pm).

It is the three pool winners, runners up and the best two third placed teams who will qualify for the knock-out stage, so there is plenty to play for.

Cornish Pirates: 15 AJ Cant, 14 Harry Davey, 13 Robin Wedlake (Javier Rojas Alvarez 51), 12 Rory Parata (Matt Evans 61), 11 Maliq Holden, 10 Will Cargill (captain), 9 Alex Schwarz (Ruaridh Dawson 55); 1 Hayden King (Will Norton 55), 2 Dan Frost (Tom Channon 40), 3 Craig Mitchell (Sam Rodman 40), 4 Cian Romaine (Jake Clemson 48), 5 Danny Cutmore, 6 James McRae, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (Sam Matavsesi 48), 8 Tom Duncan.

Nottingham: 15 Thomas Benjamin, 14 Jack Spittle (Cantano Branco 40), 13 Harry Strong, 112 Will Simons, 11 David Williams, 10 Shane O’Leary, 9 Murray McConnell (Alex Dolly 68); 1 James Jack (Aniseki Sio 51), 2 Ben Brownlie (Luke Cole 58), 3 Ben Betts (Oisin Heffernan 51), 4 Llewelyn Jones (Callum Allen 68), 5 Oliver Chessum, 6 Seb Cecil, 7 George Cox, 8 Tui Uru. Reps (not used): Scott Hall, Matt Riddington.


Cornish Pirates – tries: Frost, Davey; cons: Cargill (2); pens: Cargill (2).

Nottingham – tries: Brownlie, Spittle, Strong, Williams; cons: O’Leary (3); pen: O’Leary.

Attendance: 1079