A few weeks ago the Cornish Pirates lay at the foot of the Greene King IPA

Championship table. For some, it was worrying. Results, however, took a turn for

the better, and recording three consecutive league wins they ended 2015 placed

ninth in the league, two places and just two points behind Rotherham Titans.

Now, following this New Year opener at Clifton Lane, another victory has not only

seen the Pirates claim seventh spot in the league, but in the process they also put a

niggling bogey firmly to bed, the result comprehensively ending a record of six

consecutive losses against the Titans, including a 24-26 result at the Mennaye Field,

Penzance, in September.

A thumbs up from Marlen to celebrate his three tries in the match – Photo: Simon Bryant

Rotherham thankfully avoided the severe flooding problems recently experienced in

other places ‘up north’. However, the pitch conditions were inevitably still wet pre-

match and would deteriorate as the game progressed.

Keen to bounce back from a 43-9 points derby match defeat at Yorkshire Carnegie

the previous weekend, the Titans started this match in forthright fashion. Indeed they

forced the Pirates to defend, and awarded two early penalties could well have

opened the scoring. Twice they opted for catch and drives, hopes high, but to no

benefit. In contrast, weathering early pressure the Pirates then took play deep into

Rotherham’s half, and duly showed the way to deliver, their line-out to maul and then

try-line advance successfully ending with lock Laurie McGlone ultimately identified as

the try-scorer. Fly-half Laurence May was on target with the conversion. 0-7.

As the half proceeded the Pirates looked confidently composed. Solid at scrum time,

their kick-chase game was good, and they also tackled with determination,

exemplified by centre Tom Hendrickson.

The Pirates had to wait until just past the half-hour mark before recording their

second score. Laurence May had slid through a kick to force the Titans back, and

after maintaining territorial advantage the control at a maul would once again deliver.

Prop Marlen Walker applied the downward pressure for an unconverted try. 0-12.

In the deteriorating conditions the Pirates strived hard to add more points before the

break, as they were aware that the task would likely be harder in the second period.

Deservedly, in the very last minute of the half a third try materialised, and it was one

to admire. Taking advantage after a Rotherham kick failed to find touch, centre Max

Bodilly set off on a run with Brett Beukeboom in support. The Canadian lock received

the ball, a fine pass was made to Jack Arnott, and not for the first time this season

the wingman switched on the gas to scorch his way to the line. As May’s conversion

sailed through the posts, the sound of referee Mr. Andrew Jackson’s whistle brought

the half to a close. 0-19.

Jack Arnott scores – Photo: Brian Tempest

For the Pirates, so far, so good, with the scoreline one few could ever have


A super opening to the second forty saw the Cornish side further cement a

considerable stranglehold on this game. Two more tries from mauls – the first

securing a bonus point - were scored by Walker. A hat-trick for a prop – now that’s a

rare occurrence, demanding a check of record books. Both his second half efforts

were converted by May. 0-33.

With nearly half an hour left to play, thoughts of reaching to 50 mark came to mind.

They would, though, remain as thoughts. A yellow card shown the inspirational

McGlone had dramatic consequences, as during his 10 minutes absence forlon

Rotherham supporters were suddenly revived. The Titans scored tries through wing

Michael Keating, full-back Sean Scanlon, and skipper Tom Holmes, which were all

converted by replacement fly-half Ross Thomas. 21-33.

Another converted score, without reply, would confirm at least two bonus points for

Rotherham, but back to 15-a-side the Pirates denied the Titans any chance, and in

the process once again silenced their keenest of followers. Awarded a penalty the

Pirates this time opted for a scrum. It proved a wise choice, their confidence

rewarded with their sixth try of the match, this time scored by replacement Tom

Duncan. Replacement Kieran Hallett’s conversion attempt unluckily missed, for the

final score to read 21-38.

For many it might well be depressingly dull and drab at present, but for the fast

improving Pirates the start of 2016 is bright. ‘Magic’ Marlen should deservedly have

a wide grin on his face, whilst for all Pirates there is surely the prospect of much to

look forward to in the year ahead.