Playing their Round 7 game in this season’s Greene King IPA Championship, there was clear disappointment for the Cornish Pirates in losing to Ampthill, writes Phil Westren

Despite outscoring the Bedfordshire visitors by three tries to one, the Pirates could have no arguments, as a workmanlike Ampthill team deserved their victory.

In a much-changed Cornish Pirates side, fly-half Will Cargill was named as skipper and eight players were looking forward to making their first Championship starts of the season.

Regular replacements Jack Andrew, Tom Channon, and Sam Rodman formed the front-row, and Paddy Ryan was selected at No. 8.

In the backs Will Butler was named to partner Rory Parata in the centre, whilst players ready for action off the bench were lock Cory Teague, back-rower Charlie Wright, and fly-half Arwel Robson.

For the latter, who had joined the club on loan during the week from Newport Gwent Dragons, it would be his debut appearance.

Playing towards the Newlyn end of the ground the Pirates got off to a solid start, dominating early territory and gaining their just reward when in the eighth minute Cargill opening the scoring with a penalty.

The strong east wind made it difficult for the teams and Ampthill more than once failed to find touch on the main stand side.

For the Pirates, however, their encouraging opening to the game continued when, with a quarter of an hour on the clock, a long pass from Rodman saw the ball moved to flanker John Stevens and onto Ryan.

Then, lending support to the advance, scrum-half Alex Schwarz stretched to score at the old Western National corner.

On such a difficult day for the tee men, it was no surprise that Cargill was luckless with the conversion.

From the restart, the Pirate's unfortunate disruption saga continued when the previous week’s impressive two-try scorer, Harry Davey, was unluckily forced off with what appeared a hamstring injury.

Having taken his chance for action so well against Nottingham, you could sense his quite considerable frustration.

Approaching half-time, Ampthill got more into the game.

41-year-old former Tongan international Aleki Lutui proved a front-row force and flanker Joe Bercis was busy about the park.

Their line-out was also very efficient.

As for their first points of the match, skipper and fly-half Louis Grimoldby delivered, his forcefully struck penalty kick making it over and through the Penzance posts from some 35 metres out.

A second impressively successful penalty strike by Grimoldby, this time from nearer 40 metres out, provided some alarm, but this was soon put aside when from the restart the Pirates took advantage of an Ampthill fumble which led to man-of-the-match John Stevens scoring an unconverted try at the Newlyn gate corner.

13-6 is how stayed come the half-time whistle.

Ampthill looked fired up for the start of the second forty, with due evidence of their intent soon revealing itself on the scoreboard.

Grimoldby slotted his third successful penalty and this was followed by a run-in try for their debutant inside centre Richard Streets.

If there was a TMO on duty then it almost certainly wouldn’t have been given, as the ball appeared not to have been grounded over the line.

Anyway, that happens, and such incidents will at times go for and against you.

Now one point behind, the Pirates needed to show character to respond, though from what was being witnessed this clearly couldn’t be be deemed a ‘gimme’.

Applying pressure at the Penzance posts helped, as Ampthill suddenly lost the services of their hooker Syd Blackmore to the sin bin.

It was surely a chance for the Pirates to regain their lead, which they did after replacement Robson’s long pass enabled Schwarz to notch his second try of the afternoon.

He dotted the ball down at the clubhouse corner, but Robson was unable to add the extras.

When a second yellow card was shown the visitors, this time to Bercis, the Pirates looked likely to press on, but it just didn’t happen.

Two penalties from Ampthill replacement Russell Bennett, and some telling late influence by former ‘Pirate’ Dave Ward, carried them to victory.

Final score: Cornish Pirates 18 - Ampthill 20

Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Gavin Cattle said: "We scored three tries to one but from opportunities missed it showed overall we looked a team low in confidence.

"Yes, there were a lot of personnel and combination changes, which can inevitably lead to a little disjointedness and error, but some chances missed were simple walk-ins.

"Also, when going down to 13 men we unfortunately failed to take full advantage, however credit to Ampthill for controlling the ball particularly well during that period.

"Ultimately, looking back we gave too many penalties away, our execution was poor at times and if you make the mistakes that we did then you get what you deserve.

"It also takes time for new combinations to bed in, so we just have to go through that journey.

"Looking ahead, we now need to truck on and try to regain a boost in our confidence which can only be done one way – through learning from our mistakes, and by training and playing."