Cornish Pirates 18, Bedford Blues 15

Naturally keen to achieve a winning result at home as they look to ‘push on’ into 2020, the Cornish Pirates made it four league wins on the trot to also hold onto second place in the league, writes Phil Westren.

By Bedford Blues’ standards they had arrived in what overall has been a surprisingly disappointing start to this season’s Greene King IPA Championship campaign. Indeed, they had won only one fixture to the end of 2019, although for the start of 2020 with games won away to London Scottish and then at home to Hartpury, an expected brighter picture was emerging.

The selection for the Cornish Pirates saw one change in the backline from that which faced Jersey Reds the previous weekend. Jean-Baptist Bruzulier had picked up a slight injury during training, so he was replaced at scrum half by Alex Schwarz. As for the forwards the whole front-row was changed, with Marlen Walker and Craig Mitchell the named props and Tom Channon the hooker, whilst in the back-row Antonio Kiri Kiri returned to the starting XV to wear the number ‘7’ shirt. Dual-registered with Wasps and available once again, back-rower Will Wilson was keen for action off the bench.

A careful eye on the weather forecast was necessary in the build up to this match, and although pitch conditions at the Mennaye Field are less than ideal, the game thankfully went ahead, thanks also to the efforts of ground staff.

For the Pirates, fly-half Will Cargill was unlucky not to open the scoring when his second minute long-range penalty attempt narrowly missed.

Although hampered a little at first because of conditions underfoot, from the start both teams looked to play positive rugby. A try-fest was unlikely, but a match to entertain, as is often the case between these two teams, nonetheless looked on the cards.

After Bedford’s fly-half and skipper, USA international Will Hooley, got the scoreboard ticking with a penalty slot, the Pirates were quick to respond. Taking play to the clubhouse corner of the ground, from a second catch and drive opportunity they made it over the line, for No.8 Tom Duncan to be identified as the scorer of a try that was successfully converted by Cargill.

Having taken the lead, the Pirates would extend it in the twenty-sixth minute with another five-points effort, which was outstanding both in creation and completion. Full-back Kyle Moyle displayed clever footwork to break into space some sixty metres out, with immediate support given by wing Robin Wedlake who raced in at the clubhouse corner. Of no surprise it would prove to be the ‘Glengoyne’ try of the match.

Ahead of this contest the Pirates were aware that the Blues posed a real threat, as confirmed when they struck back in the build to half-time. It was prop Joe Wrafter who initially showed strength and determination on a lunge to the line, only to be ‘held up’. However staying patient and working the ball to right, No.8 Dan Temm then forced his way over at the Newlyn gate corner. Hooley also added the conversion.

Come half-time the Pirates led 12-10, it a good contest witnessed thus far, with credit due both sides. An enthralling second period beckoned, with any wet patches on the field also likely to dry out further as the game progressed.

Wilson got his likely wish and entered the fray for the second forty, as the Pirates also freshened up with two fresh props. As for the Blues, their hopes were for a quick score, only to see an intercept firstly called back and the Pirates then extend their lead thanks to penalty kicked by Cargill.

The Blues refused to bow, however, and were unlucky not to at least level matters after wing Ryan Hutler ran and passed to former Pirates flanker Joe Atkinson. A try wide on the right looked a ‘cert’, only for Wedlake to defend the threat magnificently.

There was a feeling that the Pirates might just dominate a little more, especially after a penalty kicked by replacement Javier Rojas Alvarez made it 18-10, but again the Blues would show their mettle. They were swift in their passing movements and had danger runners in wings Ryan Hutler and Matt Worley, the latter soon showing his pace and space awareness to run in an excellent try at the scoreboard corner. Registered in the 69th minute it would prove to be the last points of what was a thoroughly enjoyable game.

In conclusion the Pirates probably deserved their win, whilst the Blues at the least deserved a losing bonus point. They are still eleventh in the league but will surely finish higher come the season’s end.

Speaking after the game, from a Cornish Pirates perspective coach Alan Paver said: “It wasn’t the high-scoring game we have often seen between the sides, but it was one I really enjoyed. I loved it - a real arm wrestle.

“Hats off top Bedford who have had a bit of a slow start but who have definitely picked up. There were quality players on show and they brought emotion to the game to play their part.

“We said at half-time that we really need to step matters up and we managed that sufficiently to continue our winning ways.

“Last season we lost games that we should have closed out, so we are making progress and it is part of our evolution. Dicky Evans had advised us to ‘truck up’ and keep control of the ball and you can see that as a group we are becoming more mature.”

Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Callum Patterson, 11 AJ Cant (Shae Tucker 53), 10 Will Cargill (Javier Rojas Alvarez 52), 9 Alex Schwarz (Rhodri Davies 65); 1 Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 40), 2 Tom Channon, 3 Craig Mitchell (Jay Tyack 40), 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain), 6 James McRae, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (Danny Cutmore 59), 8 Tom Duncan (Will Wilson 40). Rep (not used): Dan Frost.

Bedford Blues: 15 Pete Lydon, 14 Ryan Hutler, 13 Rich Lane, 12 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas (Sam Leeming 59), 11 Matt Worley, 10 Will Hooley (captain), 9 Grayson Hart (James Lennon 57); 1 Joe Wrafter (Sean McCarthy 46), 2 Charlie Clare (Jacob Fields 59), 3 Henry Paul (Alex Penny 44), 4 Oli Curry, 5 Will Carrick Smith (Ed Taylor 53), 6, Josh Buggea (Huw Worthington 57), 7 Joe Atkinson, 8 Dan Temm. Rep (not used): Pat Tapley.


Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan, Wedlake; con: Cargill; pens: Cargill, Rojas Alvarez.

Bedford Blues – tries: Temm, Worley; con: Hooley; pen: Hooley.

Referee: Christophe Ridley (RFU)

‘Tribute’ Man-of-the-match: Josh Caulfield

‘Glengoyne’ Try-of-the-Match: Robin Wedlake

Attendance: 1635