Trailfinders 58 Cornish Pirates 26
Eight days after losing
to Ealing Trailfinders at home in the league, travelling to West London to
face the them away in the semi-final of the new Championship Cup competition was always going to be a big ask,
and so it proved, reports Cornish Pirates’ Media Officer, Phil Westren.
beaten 58-26, after having held an early 21-5 points lead, was naturally
frustrating, on what was a sunny and freakily warm February afternoon.
Ultimately, however, there was also a certain reality about it, the Pirates
aware in advance that to likely stand any chance of making the final they would
need to be at the top of their game.
Two players back to full
fitness, wing Robin Wedlake and flanker John Stevens returned to the Pirates starting
line-up in a side that also saw Dan Lee selected at No. 8 and Dan Frost at
hooker. Named among the replacements was a fit again Will Cargill. A late
change saw prop Jack Andrew promoted off the bench to replace Marlen Walker,
who failed a late fitness test.
Motivated having won the
British & Irish Cup last year, the Trailfinders named a strong line-up
including the return of club captain Sam Dickinson, however it was the Pirates
who got off to a great start. Game underway they were quickly into their
stride, Wedlake gaining yardage down the left flank and then Frost making an
appearance to show an explosive turn of pace to score at the posts. Fly-half
Harvey Skinner converted.
After the Ealing side
looked to respond the Pirates not only held the threat but were then suddenly
on the attack again, this time on the right flank. Full-back Kyle Moyle nudged
the ball ahead and it was wingman Alex O’Meara who was on hand to dot down.
Skinner also slotted his conversion attempt well from out wide.
Endeavouring to again
hit back, the home team were second time lucky, controlled play from wing James
Cordy-Redden and flanker Kieran Murphy seeing scrum-half Jordan Burns then lend
his support to score a try, adding to the two he registered in the league encounter
at the Mennaye Field. Former Pirate Laurence May was luckless with the
As if not fazed, the
Pirates would soon score their third try, it a fourteenth in all games this
season for Wedlake. Skinner once again added the extras for the scoreboard to
read 5-21 with there only seventeen minutes on the clock.
From midway through the
first half of this contest, the temper of the game changed, that man Burns
running in his second try and then there one for Cordy-Redden. Both efforts
were converted by May to narrow the deficit to just two points.
Adding to Pirate woes,
in time remaining to the break they lost both Skinner and Stevens to the sin
bin, which now made it all something of an uphill task for the visitors. May
landed a penalty to give his side the lead for the first time, and a second
unconverted try from Cordy-Redden before the half-time whistle made it 27-21.
Still short of personnel
to start the second period, the Pirates somehow needed to deny their opponents
until their troops were all back in place. Not only was it a tough ask, but it
was also not long before centre Harry Sloan crossed for a converted try.
To their credit, the
Pirates responded by scoring what would prove to be their last points of the
game, captain Brett Beukeboom initially leading a charge and the ball next
worked right by scrum-half Alex Day. Centre Rory Parata then timed his pass
perfectly and it was speedster O’Meara who dived in for his ninth try of the
The rest of the match
saw Ealing Trailfinders fully in charge, their bench a strong one to call upon
and the Pirates cause not helped by injuries, including to Moyle and O’Meara. A
big shout though to the propping pair of Tyler Gendall and Andrew in particular,
who was always a willing ball carrier.
Further tries for the
hosts came from centre David Johnston and influential skipper Rayn Smid, both
converted by May, and then there were two unconverted efforts from Burns whose
try-scoring exploits against the Pirates have been quite phenomenal.
Pre-match Gavin Cattle
had said the game of rugby can at times be unforgiving, mentioning too that the
Pirates would be facing a quality team. There was a hope of at least pushing
the Trailfinders closer than the previous week, but it was not to be.
Speaking after the game,
Cornish Pirates co-coach Alan Paver also gave an honest assessment, saying, “After
a good start it was of course disappointing to not only lose personnel to
yellow cards but to also lose the collision, the referee and later the set
piece and we have no complaints about the score.
“Our decision making let
us down at times, and pretty well beaten in every department it was also a
bitter pill to swallow that we couldn’t keep in the fight to the end.
“Points were leaked
through our own errors and we imploded, and although there is a reality that
this late into the season we are running out of bodies, we have to keep going.”
15 Will Harries, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 David Johnston, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 James
Cordy Redden (21 Ryan Foley, 76), 10 Laurence May (22, Craig Willis, 6) 9
Jordan Burns; 1 Alex Lundberg (17 Jordan Els, 57), 2 Matt Cornish (16 Alun
Walker, 51), 3 Mark Tampin (18 Elliott Millar Mills, 66), 4 Sam Dickinson (20
Andrew Durutalo, 62), 5 Harry Casson (19 Jordan Onojaife, 66), 6 Kieran Murphy
(5 Harry Casson, 76), 7 Rohan O’Regan, 8 Rayn Smid (c).
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle
(20 Alex Schwarz, 57), 14 Alex O’Meara (22 Dan Koster, 48), 13 Rory Parata, 12
Callum Patterson, 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Harvey Skinner (21 Will Cargill, 55), 9
Alex Day; 1 Tyler Gendall (17 Tom Concu, 62), 2 Dan Frost (16 Sam Matavesi,
55), 3 Jack Andrew (1 Tyler Gendall, 76), 4 Danny Cutmore, 5 Brett Beukeboom
(c), 6 Matt Bolwell (19 Josh Caulfield, 32), 7 John Stevens, 8 Dan Lee (18 Tom
10 Harvey Skinner (32), 7 John Stevens (37).
Ealing Trailfinders –
tries: 9 Jordan Burns (9, 19, 65, 78), 11 James Cordy-Redden (26, 40), 12 Harry
Sloan (43), 13 David Johnston (54), 8 Rayn Smid (61); cons: 10 Laurence May
(20, 27, 44, 55, 62); pen: 10 Laurence May (33).
Cornish Pirates – tries:
14 Alex O’Meara (6, 46), 2 Dan Frost (2), 11 Robin Wedlake (16); cons: 10
Harvey Skinner (2, 6,17).
With London Irish having
earlier in the afternoon won their home semi-final 22-8 against Yorkshire
Carnegie, it will be an ‘Irish’ v ‘Trailfinders’ final to be played on the
weekend 4th May. The venue will be determined by the Tournament
Organiser with regard to the best interests of the competing clubs.