The Cornish Pirates came out 26-13 victors over Jersey Reds in their warm-up friendly match on Saturday, writes Phil Westren.

In weather conditions that mirrored a high summer’s day, remembering that it was near a year since the Cornish Pirates last played a match, it was almost as if to mark a celebration of a return to rugby when the team welcomed Jersey Reds to the Mennaye Field. Also, as an added bonus, the Pirates then proceeded to record a fine warm-up match win against the strong visiting side.

Covid restrictions deemed that no crowd could be present, however supporters who watched the match via an available live streaming link will have been encouraged by what they saw – all now looking forward to similarly watching the Pirates take on Saracens at the Mennaye Field this coming Saturday, in what will be a belated opener to this season’s Greene King IPA Championship.

It was the Reds who got off to a sound start. Fly-half Brendan Cope opened the scoring with a penalty taken to the left of the Newlyn posts, and it was not long before he added a second following lock Zak Farrance’s penetrative midfield run.

With just over a quarter of the game gone the Pirates responded with their first points of the afternoon. The award of a penalty at scrum time appeared to provide the boost, and after hooker Dan Frost made inroads deep inside the Jersey team’s ‘22’ it was scrum-half Jean-Baptist Bruzulier who darted in at the scoreboard corner. Young fly-half Luke Scully, making his debut on loan from Cardiff Blues, added the extras.

Pirates will face Saracens at the Mennaye Field this coming Saturday. Picture: Brian Tempest.

Pirates will face Saracens at the Mennaye Field this coming Saturday. Picture: Brian Tempest.

This match was proving fully committed, though with the Pirates now having the edge, as reflected on the scoreboard after Tom Duncan stretched to score a second try, again converted by Scully. 14-6 it was come the interval, with the Pirates good value for their lead.

Soon after the start of the second forty the Pirates extended their lead, good work from Frost and a quick tap from replacement back-rower Antonio Kiri Kiri leading to a try scored at the old Western National corner by man-of-the-match Scully.

Both sides used their bench, further debutants for the Pirates being back-rower Charlie Wright, wing Tommy Wyatt, fly-half Harry Bazalgette, and lock Cory Teague. However, as the team still dominated it was long serving prop Jack Andrew who was identified as a try-scorer to the right of the Newlyn posts. Bazalgette made light of the conversion.

With the minutes ticking away another score for the Pirates looked likely, only for their ambition to be suddenly thwarted as they attacked deep left. Replacement George Spencer made an intercept for the Reds and stretching his legs to go clear he dotted the ball down at the Penzance posts for a try converted by another replacement in Bader Pretorius.

Man of the match, Luke Scully.Picture: Brian Tempest.

Man of the match, Luke Scully.Picture: Brian Tempest.

No more slip ups, the Pirates comfortably held out for victory following a performance that pleased joint head coach Alan Paver, who said: “Playing for the first time in nearly a year I felt it was a pretty good effort from the lads. There were a few handling errors and we might well have scored another ten of fifteen points, overall however there was a lot of energy and positives that came out of the game, including the systems and processes that worked pretty well.

“Keeping the majority of our squad will be helpful for continuity and there are at the same time some helpful new young faces to blend in, such as Luke Scully who played very well.

“We were also grateful to Jersey Reds for flying to and from Jersey to give both us and them important game time, as at the Pirates we are all now naturally looking forward to the visit of Saracens.”