Cornish Pirates 6, Hartpury RFC 0

Despite this being a rare low scoring affair, on their return to Greene King IPA Championship action this Round 7 win for the Cornish Pirates sees them placed second in the league to start the New Year, writes Phil Westren.

The Pirates made several changes to the team that won their final pool game in the Cup against London Scottish the previous weekend. Rory Parata returned to the starting line-up at outside centre, with Robin Wedlake moving back out on the wing in place of Maliq Holden who was selected at full-back. One other change in the backs saw Will Cargill named at fly-half. In the forwards Tom Duncan slotted back in at number 8, with James McRae shifting to the flank, and in the front row Sam Rodman was looking forward to making his first league start for the Pirates. One player keen to see action for the first time since February was a fit again Kyle Moyle who was listed among the replacements.

Recent weather conditions meant several pitch inspections were held in the build up to the match. Close communication between the teams and the RFU was essential, as correct protocol had to be followed. Added to this, the efforts of ground staff added another essential factor to enable the game to go ahead.

Match underway, the mix of wet ball and wet conditions underfoot, plus a squally wind, inevitably made it difficult for fluency to prevail. A heavy shower shortly before kick-off had also provided one of those occasions when the newly named Hemingways stand – the Newlyn covered end – had come into its own.

One could sympathise for both teams, who were commended for their efforts, the Hartpury starting XV including former ‘Pirate’ and centre Dan Koster its ranks, whilst for the Pirates it was remembered that both Maliq Holden and wing Alex O’Meara were former Hartpury old boys.

Playing towards the Newlyn end, the Pirates held territorial advantage and proved the more dominant force in the first half, however their only points came courtesy of a ninth minute penalty kicked by Will Cargill. Hopes were high for a better second period.

Well, the tempo from the Pirates did appear heightened to start the second forty, with an early driving maul getting the crowd on its feet. A try did not materialise and, giving due credit, plaudits were also due Hartpury for putting in a doughty performance. Players who particularly impressed were the half-back pairing of skipper Luke Carter and Joshua Bragman.

Into the last quarter there were glimmers of hope for a home try to be scored. Replacement Kyle Moyle saw the action he naturally craved, whilst sudden bursts from Robin Wedlake, replacement hooker Dan Frost, scrum-half Jean-Baptist Bruzulier and centre Callum Patterson all sparked anticipation, but it was no to be.

This was a day when there would be no ‘Glengoyne’ Try-of-the-Match winner, however the Pirates had at least secured a victory that saw them move up to second place in the league. That should provide satisfaction going in to 2020, as already does the fact that they have already booked a home quarter-final place in the Championship Cup.

Speaking after their win against Hartpury, Cornish Pirates’ coach Alan Paver said: “Conditions naturally made it very difficult, and although not a great spectacle - the game was like an old school classic with wind, rain and a lot of mud - it’s great that we got a result to end the year on a high.

“The boys wanted to give it a go, but I thought there were times when we overplayed with ball in hand, especially in the middle third. Errors were made and we might have been better probing for good field position.

“The season has a long way to go yet, and now is time to down tools for a couple of weeks, have a bit of break and then get the brain in motion to together see what else we can improve on going forward.”

Cornish Pirates: 15 Maliq Holden, 14 Alex O’Meara (Kyle Moyle 60), 13 Rory Parata, 12 Callum Patterson, 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Will Cargill (Javier Rojas Alvarez 35), 9 Jean-Baptist Bruzulier; 1 Jack Andrew (Marlen Walker 50), 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie (Dan Frost 50), 3 Sam Rodman (Jay Tyack 40), 4 Danny Cutmore (Jake Clemson 68), 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain), 6 James McRae (John Stevens 40), 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8 Tom Duncan.

Replacement (not used): Rhodri Davies.

Hartpury: 15 Mike Wilcox, 14 Harry Cochrane (Luke Eves 62), 13 Dan Koster, 12 Joe Margetts, 11 Jake Henry (Robbie Smith 35), 10 Josh Bragman, 9 Luke Carter (captain); 1 Dan Murphy (Des Merrey 60), 2 Will Crane (Will Tanner 52), 3 Alex Gibson (Ashley Challenger 68), 4 Tom Everard (Iain Grieve 62), 5 Will Safe, 6 Akapusi Qera (Rob Fuller 52), 7 Jack Preece (Max Clementson 76), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor.


Cornish Pirates – pens: Cargill Rojas Alvarez

Referee: Dean Richards (RFU)

Attendance: 1,926

‘Tribute’ Man-of-the-Match: Antonio Kiri Kiri