Pirates Rue Missed Opportunities

Ealing Trailfinders 28 Cornish Pirates 17

That the Pirates lost this match, they could not argue. However, the result might just have been different if certain opportunities were at times taken.

Coach Gavin Cattle was left frustrated and disappointed, commenting after the game that “We came to take a win but in fairness to Ealing they fronted up - whereas we lost momentum at crucial times and didn’t take our opportunities.”

It was two years ago since the Cornish Pirates first visited Vallis Way to play Ealing Trailfinders, when on that occasion they won 31-17, but there was always a sense that this match provided a tougher challenge against a team relegated at the end of that, their first season in the Championship, who have bounced immediately back.

The Trailfinders had not yet won in the present campaign, although racking up a four-try bonus point in defeat at Yorkshire Carnegie the previous weekend provided encouragement, and they were clearly keen to upset their Cornish opponents.

Returning prop Paul Andrew led the Cornish Pirates out on Ealing’s relatively new 4G turf, and his team got off to a sound start when an eighth minute penalty kicked by fly-half Will Cargill put them ahead. 0-3.

The hosts were forced to defend stoutly, and they did, with at times seemingly extra intensity. Then, with sudden acquired possession, they took front foot opportunity to move the ball left, enabling wing Phil Chesters to kick ahead and score. Scrum-half Alex Davies added the conversion to the try-scoring machine’s effort. 7-3.

Referee Mr. Simon Harding was hot to punish the Pirates at scrum time, and following a penalty award in the fifteenth minute Davies was able to extend Ealing’s lead with a successful, albeit a slightly skewed kick. 10-7.

Both sides tested each other with the high ball, a department where Cornish Pirates’ full-back Toby May was once again up to the challenge, always gathering in assured fashion.

Approaching half-time, pressure applied by the Pirates deep in the right hand corner of the main stand side of the ground led to the Cornish side levelling matters. Home hooker Alun Walker was yellow-carded, and the Pirates took immediate advantage, No. 8 Laurie McGlone identified as the try-scorer from a catch-and-drive and Cargill landing a fine conversion. 10-10.

It looked as if 10-all was how it would stay come the break, especially after a Davies penalty attempt rebounded off a post into the safe hands of McGlone. However, in the very final seconds a further penalty awarded the Trailfinders this time saw Davies deliver the goods, to give them a three points advantage. 13-10.

Speaking ahead of the game, Cornish Pirates’ Director of Rugby Ian Davies had said that despite losing in the opening three rounds he was still nonetheless impressed with the Trailfinders, and they couldn’t be taken lightly. He was right.

Back to a full XV early in the second half, the home team certainly showed its potential. Davies and former Plymouth Albion centre Toby Howley-Berridge both went close, and a try would be delivered when the ball was then moved to the right. Wing Rhys Crane was given a little room to work in, and using clever footwork the ex-England 7s man was over the line for an unconverted score. 18-10.

The Pirates introduced fresh legs to the proceedings, and one of them, centre Alex Dancer, took the game to Ealing. Encouragement was provided, and then enhanced with a determined carry made by flanker Sam Simmonds, but going close was for the moment as good as it got.

The period provided one of a number of momentum swings in the game, and with opportunities not taken matters got worse for the Pirates when skipper Andrew limped off.

A further threat by the Pirates again raised hopes, which were added to when Ealing’s captain, former Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons player Chris York, became their second player to take a path to the sin bin.

This time the Pirates were unable to take immediate advantage. Indeed, it was the Trailfinders who proceeded to open up an 11 points gap, thanks to Davies slotting his third penalty of the match. 21-10.

There was still time for the visitors to Vallis Way to hit back and record a victory, and the chance was very much ‘on’ after replacement Kieran Hallett’s cross field kick found the hands of Jack Arnott, who picked a line to the posts. Hallett converted and late tension was guaranteed. 21-17..

As the game drew to a conclusion, it ultimately looked as if the Pirates would have to settle for a losing bonus point. Sadly, though, they were denied even that consolation, as right at the very end pressure applied by Ealing saw them awarded a penalty try, converted by Davies, to secure their deserved win. 28-17.

Gavin Cattle further commented that the coaching team and squad will look closely in the coming week at things that went wrong, with it important “to work hard, be accurate, and execute well when under pressure”. Two games on the trot against Yorkshire Carnegie and London Scottish at the Mennaye Field will provide tests, but the players will be keen to meet the challenges in front of their home crowd,

Ealing Trailfinders: 15 James Love (Jamie Stephenson 67), 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Phil Chesters, 10 Tristan Roberts, 9 Alex Davies; 1 Will Davis, 2 Alun Walker (Jamie Kilbane 76), 3 Nathan Buck (Alexander Penny 58), 4 Nathan Hannay (Carwyn Jones 53), 5 Llewelyn Jones, 6 Danny Kenny (Matt Thompson 37-43), 7 Iain Grieve (Adam Preocanin 42), 8 Chris York (capt).

Replacement (not used): Alex Walker.

Yellow cards: Walker, York.

Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Jack Arnott, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Rheon James (Alex Dancer 49), 11 Craig Holland, 10 Will Cargill (Kieran Hallett 69), 9 Alex Day (Mike Pope 69); 1 Paul Andrew (capt, Jack Andrew 55), 2 Rob Elloway Tom Channon 47), 3 Jack Andrew (Adam Jamieson 47), 4 Marcus Garratt, 5 Will Graulich, 6 Sam Simmonds, 7 Alex Cheesman, 8 Laurie McGlone.

Replacements (not used): Matt Bolwell, John Stevens.


Ealing Trailfinders – tries: Chesters, Crane, penalty try; cons: Davies (2); pens: Davies (3).

Cornish Pirates – tries: McGlone, Arnott; cons: Cargill, Hallett; pen: Cargill.

Referee: Simon Harding (RFU).