Photo Brian Tempest: Kyle Moyle scores at the Newlyn End.
Cornish Pirates 29 Bedford Blues 30
Report by Phil Westren
Arriving at Round 8 in the Greene King IPA Championship, this third versus fourth-placed contest was always going to be closely fought, and so it proved. Games between the two teams are also often entertaining, which in part this one was, however both sides made mistakes but with the visitors arguably just about deserving their narrow victory.
Changes in the Cornish Pirates side from the team that lost away to Jersey Reds the previous weekend saw Harry Strong and Dan Koster named as the centre pairing.
Hooker Sam Matavesi, who has been selected in the Flying Fijians squad for their forthcoming autumn tour of Europe, returned to a front-row that also included prop Jack Owlett in the starting line-up. In the back-row, James McRae was selected at blind-side flanker.
Among the replacements, having recovered from an injury suffered in pre-season, Argentine international Javier Rojas Alvarez was poised to make his debut off the bench.
On a glorious October’s afternoon, after the Blues opened the scoring in the sixth minute thanks to a penalty successfully struck by fly-half Will Hooley, the Pirates responded immediately to score the game’s opening try. It was a super effort, a swift passage of play instigated by Strong on halfway and impressively finished off by Matavesi at the Penzance posts. It was his sixth Championship try of the season to which fly-half Will Cargill added the extras.
Midway through the first half Hooley slotted his second penalty, so could the Pirates respond again? Yes/no, would be the answer, as although the efforts of Koster and full-back Kyle Moyle raised hopes, the Blues not only cleared the danger but also through a kick-chase conjured up a converted try of their own scored by full-back Rich Lane.
In general, the game thus far had provided frustration for the Pirates, not helped by a couple of poor kicks out of hand and a line-out that wasn’t now functioning. To inflict a little extra pain, the Bedford side further increased their lead when centre Lewis Robling fired over a long-range penalty attempt.
Near the end of the half, an attack started by wing Robin Wedlake again saw Moyle go close, before in the last-minute Cargill wisely opted for penalty kick at goal that was suitably landed to make it 10-16 at the break.
With a developing breeze on their backs, early into the second period the Pirates were at first luckless when a penalty attempt by Cargill was narrowly off target. However, following a bullocking run by skipper Brett Beukeboom, territory was acquired to ‘do the business’. Without hesitation Moyle chose his course to the line, his movement spotted by scrum-half Alex Day who deftly delivered the try-scoring pass.
It was an encouraging start to the second half, with there a feeling that if the Pirates could cut out errors and build phases then home advantage should likely count. It was a fair assumption, but one tested when Bedford wing Ryan Hutler scored a converted try.
The arrival though of Javier Rojas Alvarez all but immediately reinvigorated home hopes, and for good measure a second fine try scored by Moyle and converted by Cargill added to the sudden feeling. Indeed, the Pirates were in full and confident flow, only for their efforts to be punished when a loose pass enabled the Blues to break away for a converted try scored by wing Dean Adamson.
There was still time for the Pirates to get back into the match, which they did when replacement scrum-half Alex Schwarz showed determination to score near the Newlyn posts – his first try in Pirates colours. Replacement fly-half Harvey Skinner kicked the conversion to make it 29-30, and with eleven minutes on the clock a tense finish was guaranteed.
As it worked out, there would be no more scores for either side, but the gaming ending with the Pirates at least acquiring two bonus points They are also still placed third in the league table.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Dan Koster, 12 Harry Strong, 11 Matt Evans (Javier Rojas Alvarez 61), 10 Will Cargill (Harvey Skinner 68), 9 Alex Day (Alex Schwarz 64); 1 Jack Andrew (Billy Keast 68), 2 Sam Matavesi (Tom Cowan-Dickie 64), 3 Jack Owlett (Tyler Gendall 68) 4 Toby Freeman (Danny Cutmore 68), 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain), 6 James McRae, 7 Matt Bolwell, 8 Tom Duncan.
Bedford Blues: 15 Rich Lane, 14 Ryan Hutler, 13 James Elliott, 12 Lewis Robling (Fraser Strachan 68), 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Will Hooley, 9 James Lennon (Alex Gliksten 54); 1 Sean McCarthy, 2 Jacob Fields (Jarad Williams 62), 3 Alex Penny (Ben Cooper 64), 4 Will Carrick Smith, 5 Mark Flanagan, 6 Ollie Curry, 7 Josh Buggea (Gerard Ellis 62), 8 Huw Worthington (Jack Nay 54). Replacement (not used): Hayden King.
Scorers: Cornish Pirates – tries: Moyle (2), Matavesi, Schwarz; cons: Cargill (2), Skinner; pen: Cargill. Bedford Blues – tries: Lane, Hutler, Adamson; cons: Hooley (3); pens: Hooley (2), Robling.
Referee: Michael Hudson (RFU)
St. Austell Brewery’s Man-of-the-Match: Matt Bolwell