Cornish Pirates 47, Coventry 31

Although credit was due both teams in this RFU Championship Cup quarter-final tie, it was the Cornish Pirates who deservedly prevailed in what proved an entertaining cup fest, writes Phil Westren.

With an earlier 12.30pm kick-off time for this important fixture, it gave supporters the opportunity to view not just the quarter-final game but also immediately afterwards stay and watch on television screens the England versus Ireland match in the Six Nations that followed.

Returning to match action for the Pirates was wing Robin Wedlake, with Shae Tucker selected at inside centre. Three forwards who didn’t feature away to Newcastle Falcons the previous Sunday were No.8 Tom Duncan, open-side flanker Will Wilson, and prop Marlen Walker.

Early points for both sides came from the boots of the opposing fly-halves – Will Cargill for the Pirates and Will Maisey for the Falcons – each posting two apiece.

As for a first try, that came midway through the first half. Following recent controversy reference planned funding cuts for the Championship, the crowd were already participating in a planned two minutes applause to show support for the competing clubs, when during it Cornish Pirates’ back-rower Will Wilson suddenly burst clear to score at the Penzance posts. The applause, quite understandably, grew even louder, but for a sporting lull as Cargill stepped up to slot the conversion.

Featuring for the visitors at hooker was former ‘Pirate’ Darren Dawidiuk, whilst another familiar Coventry face, albeit it nowadays bearded, was that of scrum-half Tom Kessell, who was awaiting his call off the bench.

As expected, the match was closely fought, so a third penalty kicked by Cargill proved a welcome score right at the end of the first half, for the Pirates ‘go in’ 16-9 up.

The home team also started the second half well, with man-of-the-match hooker Dan Frost scoring a converted try to the right of the Newlyn posts. Coventry, however, would soon remind everyone that the result, at least at this stage, was still in the balance. The impressive Maisey kicked his fourth penalty and then converted a fine try scored by centre Will Owen, who had displayed a mix of power and determination in making it to the line.

With the score now reading 23-19, the Pirates needed to respond and reassert themselves, which on cue did. Replacement scrum-half Rhodri Davies directed matters, centre Shae Tucker was twice influential as the ball was worked through phases, and when the ball was passed to the right it was replacement Antonio Kiri Kiri who made light of scoring a converted try at the Newlyn gate corner.

Supporters were experiencing a treat, but it would get better still when the Pirates attacked down the left flank. Frost was again in the spotlight, his deft pass to wing AJ Cant enabling the latter to sprint clear and dot down the Pirates fourth converted try of the match.

Into the last ten minutes the points kept coming, for both sides. Flanker Senitiki Nayalo scored a converted try for the visitors, before Cargill then opened up an important 16 points gap with yet another penalty.

A converted try scored by Coventry replacement Scott Tolmie reduced the deficit, before the game concluded with wing Robin Wedlake scoring a final fifth try for the Pirates. Several of the kicks on offer to Cargill had been anything but easy, so credit to him for once again landing the conversion, his faultless display off the tee seeing him land nine out of nine kicks in the match.

Speaking at the end of the game, Cornish Pirates coach Gavin Cattle said:

“We expected it to be physical, and it was, but with credit to each team for playing some very good rugby.

“When we scored right at the start of the second half it opened the game up a bit and Coventry had to play catch up, so I was really pleased with how we played and with the eventual outcome.

“Among several outstanding performances, Will kicked well and Dan Frost had a particularly fine game. Also making a start was Shae Tucker who deserves special mention. We asked for a solid game from him both in defence and attack, but he gave us more than that.”

Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle (Harry Davey 66), 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata (Javier Rojas Alvarez 72), 12 Shae Tucker, 11 AJ Cant, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Schwarz (Rhodri Davies 55); 1 Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 65), 2 Dan Frost (Tom Channon 71), 3 Craig Mitchell (Sam Rodman 27), 4 Fa’atiga Lemalu, 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain, Danny Cutmore 66), 6 James McRae, 7 Will Wilson, 8 Tom Duncan (Antonio Kiri Kiri 56).

Coventry: 15 Dan Lewis, 14 Rob Knox, 13 Heath Stevens, 12 Will Owen (Rory Jennings 65), 11 Andy Bulumakau, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Pete White (Tom Kessell 51); 1 Toby Trinder, 2 Darren Dawidiuk (Scott Tolmie 55), 3 Phil Boulton (Luc Jeannot 68), 4 George Oram, 5 Nile Dacres (Alex Woolford 65), 6 Senitiki Nayalo, 7 Luke Wallace (Ben Nutley 51), 8 Ryan Burrows (captain, Adam Peters 51).

Replacement (not used): Joe Buckle


Cornish Pirates – Tries: Wilson, Frost, Kiri Kiri, Cant, Wedlake; cons: Cargill (5); pens: Cargill (4).

Coventry – Tries: Owen, Nayalo, Tolmie; cons: Maisey (2); pens: Maisey (4).

Referee: Dean Richards (RFU)

Tribute ‘Man of the Match’: Dan Frost

Glengoyne ‘Try of the Match’ winner: Antonio Kiri Kiri

Attendance: 1,115