FALMOUTH RFC could be forgiven for being slightly relieved at the decision to end the 2019/20 rugby season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Eagles seven points and three places above the Western Counties West relegation zone, they could have been in for a nervous final four games – until the decision was made to end the campaign and use a points-per-game method to determine the final standings.

Falmouth’s season began at their Recreation Ground home as Tiverton came to visit, with the Eagles surrendering a slender half-time lead as they opened their 2019/20 Western Counties West campaign with a defeat.

The Eagles led early on thanks to a converted try by Nick Carne, only for Alex Pike to level the scores with a try of his own for Tiverton, before Matt Horton kicked over a pair of penalties to put Falmouth six points in front at the break.

But Tivvy moved up a few gears in the second half, running in three converted tries to secure a bonus-point victory.

A much brighter performance followed at Wadebridge Camels, when they came within a whisker of earning victory before eventually going down to a 27-23 defeat.

The Eagles pushed the reigning Cornwall Cup champions hard and led until just before half-time, when the hosts ran in 17 points in first-half injury-time to lead at the break. Falmouth rallied after the break and got three tries on the board via Dan Hubble, Seb Firth and Tom Spiller, but the Camels added one of their own to seal victory.

It was third time lucky for the all-important first victory of the season, with it coming against the eventual champions Wellington, who made the long journey to Falmouth at the end of September.

The two sides exchanged the lead and pegged each other back on a couple of occasions, but it was the hosts who eventually prevailed when Nick Carne went over late on, with his try being converted by Kieran Rodda to complete a bonus-point 26-19 victory.

Defeat at Bideford followed before a last-gasp try saw the Eagles draw 12-12 at home to Chard, having been 12-0 up earlier in the game.

Falmouth recorded another two points in defeat at Cullompton, grabbing two bonus points in a high-scoring 37-24 defeat in east Devon, with Rory Pugh (2), Kieran Rodda and Nick Carne all going over for the Eagles.

But a full five were forthcoming when newly promoted Wiveliscombe travelled to the Rec at the end of October, with Ollie Evans and Carne both scoring hat-tricks as the Eagles ran out dominant 46-12 winners. Spiller and Pugh also dotted down for the hosts.

They couldn’t repeat the trick when in-form Kingsbridge came to visit, losing 24-8, before surrendering a 13-8 half-time lead to lose 18-16 at Honiton.

It was hardly ideal preparation for the first derby game with Penryn in a league competition for three years, and a hat-trick from Borough wing Josh Chambers secured victory for the newly promoted rivals.

The Borough led 17-0 early in the second half before Pugh’s try got the Eagles in the game, but two quick tries from Steele Barker and Chambers did the damage, with a final try from Spiller a mere consolation as Penryn were 31-14 winners at the Rec.

A big 43-12 loss at relegation rivals Saltash, a Cornwall Cup exit at the hands of Cornwall/Devon leaders Truro and a whitewash 21-0 home loss to St Austell would have done little to lift the mood after the derby defeat, with a 32-15 defeat at Teignmouth seeing the Eagles slip into the relegation zone after seven successive losses.

But that run came to an end in their final game of 2019 when Wadebridge visited the Rec, with the Eagles recording a slender 19-14 win to move out of the relegation zone in time for Christmas.

Carne put the Eagles in front with a converted try, before two converted tries swung the tie in the Camels’ favour at half-time at a very wet Recreation Ground, only for tries from Seb Firth and Spiller to complete an important victory.

Falmouth began 2020 with an eight-try thrashing at the hands of league leaders Wellington, whose only defeat of the campaign remained that loss to the Eagles in September, but they followed it up with a 22-5 win at home to Bideford to seal back-to-back home victories, with tries from Ashley Searle, Spiller and Hubble.

The Eagles’ resurrection continued with a 20-15 win at Chard a week later – their first win on the road in the league for more than a year.

Two tries from Joe Martin and one from each of Hubble and Colin Campbell earned the Eagles a bonus point as they claimed their third win in four games, and their first away from their Recreation Ground home since a 15-13 win at Bideford on January 12, 2019.

The good form kept going with a bonus-point 29-19 victory at home to Cullompton. Tommy Job scored two tries with Joe Martin and Tony Whittle also going over to secure Falmouth’s fourth win in five and move the Eagles eight points clear of the drop zone.

But they came back down to Earth with a bump as they slipped to a 28-15 loss at bottom side Wiveliscombe, despite tries from Rob Coote and Searle giving them a 15-11 lead at the break.

A 40-0 mauling at high-flying Kingsbridge followed as Falmouth began to look over their shoulders once more, but fears of being dragged back into the relegation battle were eased after a dramatic 16-13 win at home to Honiton.

The visitors enjoyed an early lead with Ollie Cave’s penalty and Kyle Blackmore’s unconverted try, before Joe Martin put the Eagles on the board before the break with an unconverted try of his own.

Cave restored Honiton’s eight-point lead midway through the second half but could not make it ten with the kick, and that proved crucial with Ashley Searle’s unconverted try closing the gap before Matt Horton’s penalty levelled the scores, with the Falmouth fly-half then making the most important kick of all to complete the comeback in the dying moments.

That whetted the appetite ahead of the rematch with Penryn on March 7, but it was to be another derby day to remember for the Borough, who ran out 22-8 winners at their Memorial Ground.

A blistering first 40 minutes saw Penryn lead 22-0 before a penalty shortly before half-time got the Eagles on the board, with a much quieter second half seeing just one consolation Falmouth try.

That derby defeat proved to be Falmouth’s final game of the season before the RFU’s suspension of all rugby amid the growing concern over the spread of coronavirus, with their tenth-place finish and safety confirmed in April.